Business / Industries

Online shoppers hungry for healthy options

By Xu Junqian (China Daily) Updated: 2015-11-16 08:05

Hoping to cash in on this phenomenal in China is the Hudson Pecan Company, Georgia's largest pecan orchard that now ships more than 90 percent of its crop to China.

Earlier in mid-September, the company organized an event in a cozy, American-style bar called Southern Belle in downtown Shanghai.

Here, Ronald Pegg from the University of Georgia's food science and technology department gave a detailed presentation to some of China's most influential food writers and bloggers about the nutritional value of pecans.

Besides useful health information, the guests were also treated to freshly baked pecan pies that are still somewhat unusual to the local palate.

The pecan has been imported to China since 2006 when its competitor, the walnut, was hit by a price hike.

While pecan sales have generally been good, Randy Hudson, the president of US Pecan Growers Association and the owner of the Hudson Pecan Company, believes that the challenge is to convince Chinese consumers to use more pecans in their daily diets instead of viewing it as a snack.

Mable Zhuang, who has been helping to market pecans in China, said that the key to boosting consumption and securing a comfortable lead against its competitors such as pistachios, almonds and walnuts, is to educate health-conscious consumers on how they can integrate the nut into their daily meals.

"We are currently looking into creating more pecan recipes tailored for Chinese cuisines," said Zhuang. "The pecan pie is just a start. It's merely to whet the appetite."

What the booming industry is worth

China's online retail sales were worth 1.85 trillion yuan ($291.3 billion) in 2013, up by 42 percent year-on-year, according to China's Ministry of Commerce. That was the year China eclipsed the United States as the world's leading e-commerce market.

The three marketplaces owned and operated by China's e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd had generated a combined gross merchandise value of $248 billion in 2013, according to its prospectus summary filed before its initial public offering in the US in 2014. The figure is close to the $262 billion worth of consolidated online retail sales by the entire US market in 2013.

Up to 400 million online shoppers, accounting for about one-third of the total population of China, had contributed to the country's surge in e-commerce retail within less than a decade. This phenomenal indicates that the central government's plans, as stipulated in its 12th Five-Year Development Plan (2011-15) to remodel the country's economic growth, from an investment-dependent one to a more consumption-driven one via e-commerce, is on track.

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