China / Society

Baby food market targeted by organic producers

By XU WEI ( Updated: 2015-09-21 20:26

Organic food producers in China are looking to tap into the baby food market amid growing consumer concerns over excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides in agricultural production.

Baby food, including formula, rice cereal and grain products are the latest new products for Chinese organic producers.

"The business potential for the baby food market is huge as Chinese consumers are willing to spend heavily on their children," said Yang Yaning, chairwoman of the Beijing Huxi Island Investment Co Ltd.

The company, one of the largest organic food producers in China, has put forward a series of organic baby food products to cater to increasing market demand.

Other than food, the company has produced organic condiments for babies, such as soy sauce and vinegar.

The country’s dented consumer confidence in baby formula products could also divert their attention to organic baby food, she said.

Yang said the company will further diversify in the near future. It will also look to acquire foreign organic producers to further beef up its supply chain.

The Nanfang Daily reported in June that a number of domestic baby formula producers have tried to explore the organic milk powder market with several launching new product categories this month.

Chinese infant formula producer Synutra International Inc said in December that it will put forward a high-end organic infant formula product to cater to the Chinese market.

Agricultural pollution is becoming more severe with the excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides, according to the country’s agricultural ministry.

Zhang Taolin, vice-minister of agriculture, said in April that pollution caused by excessive use of fertilizers is increasing in the country's central and eastern areas. The problem is more severe in areas cultivating fruits and vegetables, he said.

Consumer confidence in domestic infant formula products has been hit hard since a scandal in 2008, when melamine was found to have been added to formula. At least six babies died and thousands became ill.

Consumption of China's organic food is growing at an annual rate of 30 to 50 percent, the China Youth Daily reported last year, citing figures from independent research institutes.

Yang is optimistic about the country’s organic market with the burgeoning middle class. "So far the feedback from the market has been very positive, and our products are in short supply in supermarkets," she said.

However, she recognized that it takes time to further nurture the organic food market. "First a customer needs to adopt the lifestyle and culture before they become an organic food consumer," she added.

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