July 2, 2016

Adventist-Made Breakfast Cereal Takes China by Storm

Weet-Bix, a Seventh-day Adventist-made breakfast cereal, has become a hot product in China after being featured on a Chinese television show, with people paying up to U.S.$39 for a box of cereal that usually sells for $4.

Enterprising people are filling shopping carts with boxes of Weet-Bix in supermarkets in Australia, where the high-fiber, low-sugar biscuit is produced by the Adventist Church-owned Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing Company, and then reselling them on Chinese commerce websites, news reports said.

“On the website Yoycart, which operates similar to eBay, 1.4-kilogram boxes of the cereal were listed as high as U.S.$39 … while 1-kilogram packs were going for U.S.$28,” The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported.

The two family-sized boxes sell for $3 to $4 in Australian stories.

The Sydney-based newspaper also said Yoycart was listing “some creative descriptions of the simple cereal, with one seller calling it ‘Advance Australia Weet-Bix sugar cooked ready to eat cereal’ and an ‘ode to joy with breakfast.’”

The surge in popularity came after a female character in the Chinese television drama “Ode to Joy” ate a bowl of the cereal on a recent episode.

“My breakfast is very simple,” the female character tells a male guest as she places a large box of Weet-Bix on the kitchen table.

“You don’t have anything hot, like dumpling soup?” asks her guest.

“I never eat things like that,” she replies.

The jump in Chinese demand sparked worries among some Australian shoppers that they would find shelves empty as when Chinese consumers made a run on baby formula late last year.

But Sanitarium general manager Todd Saunders said there was no reason to panic about a potential shortage of Weet-Bix, which was invented in 1926 and is Australia’s most popular breakfast cereal.

“We want to assure our customers that despite increased demand for Weet-Bix, Sanitarium has capacity to continue to supply our retail partners,” Saunders told South Pacific Adventist Record.

He said Sanitarium has seen growing demand since it began exporting Weet-Bix to China, the world’s largest consumer market for food and beverages, in 2008.

“Of the 42 countries to which we export Weet-Bix, China is our largest export market,” Saunders said, without providing precise figures. “We are excited to see more Chinese people choosing Australia’s most loved and trusted cereal for their daily breakfast.”

Two characters eating Weet-Bix in an image from "Ode to Joy."

Click here to view the full “Ode to Joy” episode. Weet-Bix appears around the 20-minute mark.