Chinese dairy brand climbs up global rankings

Chinese dairy brand Yili has jumped five places to No 3 in a ranking of the world’s top 50 food brands released on Tuesday by Brand Finance, a London-based brand valuation consultancy.

Yili is the only Chinese brand in the 2018 Food and Drink report’s top 10 global list, moving up from No 8 in 2017, following 43 percent year-on-year growth to hit $6.2 billion in brand value. The dairy brand’s performance aligns with the robust growth of the overall sector, which registered an average of 13 percent brand value growth year-on-year, in comparison to the 4 percent average for all companies included in the ranking. Within the dairy sector, the Chinese market is the most dynamic in the world and is set to overtake the United States as the largest market for dairy products by 2022, according to the report.

“This phenomenon is due to the rising affluence and improved accessibility of products in China’s lower-tier cities,” said David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance. “Chinese consumers increasingly prefer more premium dairy products, with health benefits and innovative flavors, so leading brands such as Yili focus on the changing demand and product innovation.” Haigh said, having built up scale domestically, Yili now has the opportunity to win the global recognition it deserves, with the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative providing a chance to market Chinese brands across Asia.

“Once familiar with the brand, customers will make their own choice as, increasingly, Chinese exports compete with international brands not just on price but also on quality and other brand attributes,” Haigh said. Another noteworthy contender in the ranking is Mengniu, a Chinese dairy brand growing at a similar pace to Yili. Its brand value rose 45 percent year-on-year, but from a lower base, hitting $3.4 billion. Mengniu, based in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, is currently a second-tier sponsor of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, giving it the right to broadcast a commercial during each of the 64 soccer matches.

Haigh said: “Sport is the mutually intelligible language for people of all nationalities and backgrounds. Therefore, sponsorship of sports clubs and international events can be extremely beneficial in assisting a market entry or simply raising a brand’s international profile. “Chinese dairy brands clearly recognize the importance of such a strategy, with Mengniu supporting this year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia and Yili signing as the official sponsor of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, having already served in this role during the 2008 Games.”