China TV drama sends Weet-bix sales soaring

Filming a Weet-bix commercial in China (supplied)
Filming a Weet-bix commercial in China (supplied)

Sales of Weet-bix have soared in China, after the popular breakfast food was featured on an episode of one of China's most watched TV soaps.

While Weet-bix has been available in the Chinese market for more than eight years, international marketing manager for Sanitarium, Mark Roper, says the appearance of Weet-Bix on the drama 'Ode to Joy' had an overnight impact on sales.

"The appearance on Chinese TV helped push the rate of sales growth for the past financial year to over 50 percent in that market," he says.

Mr Roper says the Weet-bix cameo comes at a time when the Asian market is adopting more westernised food tastes - and being featured is a move expected to benefit New Zealand exports.

"Increasing numbers of younger, health conscious Chinese are turning to Western style breakfast cereals which are seen as more convenient and healthier alternatives to traditional options."

Mr Roper says consumers in the Chinese market tend to serve Weet-Bix differently from Kiwis, often topping it with hot milk.

There's another change too - Weet-Bix will be marketed in China under the company's international brand Nutri-Brex.

"The product sold in China will be identical to Weet-Bix as it is produced in the same factory with same recipe and ingredients - however it carries the distinctive Nutri-Brex branding," Mr Roper says.

Mr Roper says Sanitarium will launch Nutri-Brex using a digital marketing campaign which includes high profile Chinese actress Alyssa Chia.