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China Daily Website

Year-ender: imported food

Updated: 2013-02-04 13:19

Growing appetite for imported food

Imported food is gaining popularity in China, as continuous food scandals have tainted the reputation of domestic food, and Chinese consumers develop a taste for international lifestyles.

Food safety matters

A report from Ipsos shows that eating healthily is a major concern for Chinese people.

Food safety is a top concern for Chinese shoppers, especially regarding such produce as vegetables, meat, seafood, grains, cooking oils and dairy goods, the report said.

It shows Chinese people are very concerned about the quality of what they eat, especially those who are older (aged 31 to 50) and those who earn a higher monthly salary (12,000 yuan a year and above - more than $1,900).

Food safety incidents change purchase decisions: Foreign brands become vastly more popular.

The Ipsos report shows that more than 60 percent of people would choose foreign brands more often. The findings show the Chinese demonstrate a low level of confidence in domestic food companies.

Rising sales

Metro China

At Metro Cash & Carry China, imported food products make up 15 percent of the food products on offer, having 1,800 items.

Imported food has seen an annual growth rate between 20 and 30 percent for Metro China and accounts for more than 55 percent of the company's sales in the Asia-Pacific region.

Milk, wine and olive oil are among the best sellers.

Between 2009 and 2012, the sales of imported milk increased to 68,000 boxes from 3,400 boxes per month, reaching an annual growth rate of 2,000 percent.


Imported products account for 20 percent of all products on sale at eight of Walmart's Sam's Club membership stores in China.

In the past two years, there has been an increase in the sales of imported food, particularly of wine and other types of alcoholic beverages, fruit, milk powder, cookies, nuts, chocolates and milk.

Yihaodian, the e-commerce unit of Walmart in China, saw its sales of imported food increased fivefold from 2011 to 2012.

The figures from Yihaodian show that imported long-life milk is among the most popular products. At Yihaodian, 3.5 containers of long-life milk are sold daily. The company used to sell 3 containers of the product a month.

Reasons behind Imported Food Trend

The perceived safety and quality guarantees of imported food attract Chinese customers

The growing Chinese economy and the residents' increasing purchasing power are among the causes of the increasing consumption of Western food products

The recent surge in domestic commodity prices, driven by inflation and higher costs, has made foreign food products more affordable.

The government's efforts to lower tariffs on imported food have also made the items more accessible to Chinese consumers.