Nation develops growing appetite for food imports

By LI YINGXUE | China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-07 07:35
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A staff member (right) introduces Greek wine at the 2023 Beijing Global Food exhibition. CHEN XIAOGEN/FOR CHINA DAILY

Three-year plan

Charif Christian Carvajal, director of the Europe and Asia market at the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association, said Tmall's four major initiatives for promoting Chilean cherries are in line with the association's three-year plan for the Chinese market.

"By using the platform's initiatives, we will collaborate with exporters from the association to enhance quality and service experiences, with the aim of meeting the consumption demands of different consumer groups in first-tier, second-tier and emerging markets," Carvajal said.

On Nov 14, the European Union collaborated with the digital new retail brand Freshippo and the Chinese recipe-sharing app Xiachufang to launch its first meal box sales in China.

The launch was part of the EU's global "Enjoy! It's from Europe" program, which was introduced in China in 2019 to promote the trading bloc's food and beverage products.

The meal box retail promotion ran from Nov 13-30 at nine Freshippo stores in Beijing, with a focus on meat, dairy products, olive oils, infant food, fruit and vegetables, sweets, wines, spirits, beer and pasta, among others.

Wojciech Ptak, agriculture counselor and first secretary of Delegation of the European Union to China, said, "European food products are known for their top safety and quality levels.

"You can buy and enjoy them with peace of mind, because stringent safety production standards, traceability and quality controls are guaranteed for the products through the whole production chain, from farm to fork.

"During this promotion, we will aim to showcase and communicate the EU's key food merits — quality, safety, authenticity and sustainability."

Jia Meng, head of Freshippo's Global Go business, said it has seen an impressive 78 percent growth in sales this year, paving the way for more than 200 international brands to enter the Chinese market.

Freshippo's collaboration with overseas retailers and brand owners has evolved beyond product importation to a joint manufacturing approach, Jia said.

"In the context of global price differentials, we have undertaken various initiatives this year. In the liquid milk segment, we visited eight countries and regions, including Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany and the US, and compared the best prices for similar products to ensure optimal value for our customers," Jia added.

Global supply chains hold the key to China's imports of orange juice, with 60-70 percent of the nation's market relying on such imports due to the predominant use of domestically grown oranges for fresh fruit sales, rather than juice production.

Data from market consultancy, which is based in Beijing, shows that from January to October last year, China imported just over 92,512 metric tons of frozen orange juice, with nearly 70 percent originating in Brazil.

Neng Jen Huei, general manager in China for Brazilian juice brand Natural One, said, "While daily juice consumption is commonplace in Brazil, it is not as prevalent in China. Nevertheless, I see substantial annual growth in the Chinese market."

Freshippo has forged a partnership with Natural One, which not only features flagship products, but also a juice tailored specifically for Freshippo based on the taste preferences of Chinese consumers.

Lin Zhengyan, Freshippo's purchaser, said that as pure orange juice tends to be too sour for most Chinese consumers, the brand has collaborated with suppliers to include a certain amount of apple content in orange juice. This blend preserves the fundamental orange flavor while naturally enhancing the juice's sweetness, meeting the dual demands of health and flavor from consumers.

With Natural One's factory situated close to orchards, freshly picked oranges undergo pasteurization in just 15 seconds.

By using a fully sterile filling room throughout the entire cold chain process to China, this new product is scheduled to appear on shelves at Freshippo outlets early next year.

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