Steamed Buns: A Chinese Traditional Staple

In northern China, around 60% of the flour is consumed for steamed bread and in South China, around 10-15% of the total flour produced is consumed for steamed bread.

By Karishma Deshpande, research associate, Future Market Insights

Steamed buns are available either fresh or frozen/processed and vary with stuffing and flour type. The frozen steamed bun segment is growing as a result of growth in demand for packaged and processed food. However, the fresh segment dominates in terms of volume production. Some manufacturers are also collaborating with food innovation centers to expand product portfolio.

Oriental food cuisines are gaining popularity globally. Consumers are also willing to taste more traditional handmade food in the US. Outside of China, the major export destinations for steamed buns include the US, the UK, Canada and Australia, where they enjoy a booming popularity with consumers. In the UK, for example, the street food market has paved a significant growth for steamed buns. As recently as last year, a key grocery retailer, Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Limited, launched Asian buns on its shelves, which also include steamed buns.

Manufacturers and Consumers

The key players in the steamed buns market are mainly located in countries such as China, Taiwan, Singapore, Korea and Malaysia. Some of the key players are PA FOOD SDN BHD, Sam Pan Foods Ltd., Gemini Foods Taiwan (Da Yu Cheng), Lim Kee Food Manufacturing Pte Ltd, Juan’s Corporation, Hebei Newcorn Food Co., Ltd., Hong Kong Dim Sim, Kong Guan Dumpling (Pau), Mfr Pte Ltd China, and Peking Food LLC amongst others. The product offering includes steamed buns with a variety of stuffing such as pork, chicken, char sui, lotus seed, red bean, custard, mushroom, and vegetable. On the basis of the flour type incorporated into recipes, the buns are offered as whole wheat flour, wheat bran and malt, multi grain and nuts, wheat bran and corn flour.

As far as dynamics in consumer preferences are concerned, consumers nowadays are willing to try out food cuisines that are traditional and handmade by artisanal chefs. Promotion and strategic marketing can be used to improve consumer penetration.

Innovative product development and delivering high product quality is of utmost importance to gain consumer trust and expand consumer base. For manufacturers, strengthening ties with global distributors and expanding retail outlets may push the market on a global scale.

Eating and Business Opportunities

Steamed buns are a staple product year-round and are on the menu for special occasions, including the Chinese New Year, Mid-Autumn Festival, or Cheung Chau Bun Festival. The various flavors available for steamed buns during Chinese festivities are carrot, pumpkin, orange, pizza and other confection fillings. They are also available in a variety of mixed stuffing such as minced pork, seafood, and chopped vegetables. In terms of patterns and colors, homemade artisanal producers offer them in wide varieties to attract their target audience, that is, children and infants. As compared to the year-round consumption, the steamed buns demand increases two- to three-fold during the festivities.

Karishma Deshpande is a research associate at Future Market Insights in the food and beverage, retail and consumer goods team. 

You can read more in our print magazine Asia Pacific Baker & Biscuit (Spring 2018)! 

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