A new report has predicted the Chinese bakery and cereals market will become the second most valuable market by 2018.

Already the largest in volume, a Canadean report expects it to reach a value of $47bn by 2018, largely driven by China’s vast population.

Veronika Zhupanova, analyst at Canadean, said: “Growing urbanisation will promote the growth of the Chinese middle class, which, in turn, will lead to a demand for a wider range of products.

“Manufacturers should take advantage of this trend and produce bakery and cereals items that serve as an energy boost for busy Chinese who skipped breakfast or need a snack break at work. Single-serve packed items, such as Tao Li’s red bean paste Dorayaki, will sell particularly well during office hours, whereas multipacks of ambient and individually packed items will be suitable for tired consumers who are looking for a treat after a long day of work.” 

Ingredients company Unicorn started selling to China in June after being approved as a food importer and agent to the country.

Joint managing director Nicola Divers said the company opened an office in China in 2011, and realised it could import as well as export from the country.

She said: “There are a lot of people there and they like imported products. This is a new initiative and embryonic at the moment, but we are seeing growth and we are pleased with the way things are going.”

In November 2012, Starbucks revealed plans to double the number of stores it has in China in three years.

It said it aimed to open 800 new shops in China by 2015 – roughly one a day – taking its network to 1,500 stores across 70 cities from Chongqing to Chengdu.

In March, a report by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), found exports to China had nearly doubled, increasing by a whopping 82%.

The top-performing product was chocolate, rising 9% to £571m, with sweet biscuits up 11% to £311m. Tea, coffee and cocoa were also up 14% to £1.07bn.