The Food & Beverage Market in China

China became the world’s largest market for food and grocery retail in 2011 and total retail sales are expected to grow 15% annually through to 2015 according to the Ministry of Commerce. Despite a fragmented distribution infrastructure and growing local competition, opportunities for European SMEs to sell their products in China are likely to grow, driven by increasing disposable income and urbanisation, an improving logistics system, growing concerns on food safety as well as a growing taste for foreign foodstuffs. Highlighted opportunities for European SMEs in this sector are: wine, cheese, dairy products and premium ice cream, pasta, sauces and tomato products, olive oil, beer, chocolate and high-end confectionery, pre-packaged biscuits and snacks, breakfast cereal, coffee, and baby food/infant formulas.

This report , updated in November 2013, outlines new regulations put in place since the previous edition was published in July 2011. New regulations include the Registration of Food and Drink Exporters; New Regulation on Exports of Dairy Products to China; and the new registration requirements being considered for imported infant formula milk. To tackle the incidence of food safety problems, which have brought widespread attention over the past few years, the government has restructured its mechanisms to bring the supervision of food production and distribution under one new ministry - the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA). Furthermore, the report also highlights the latest trend in marketing and joint promotional activities organised by China and EU government organisations.

The Chinese Food & Beverage (F&B) industry grew at an average rate of 30% from 2006 to 2012, and the annual total production value of the industry is in excess of USD $1.2 trillion (€897 billion). Once again in 2012, the production value grew by a further 30%, with the full-year production value estimated to be USD $1.6 trillion (€1.2 trillion). China is a net importer of F&B products, and in 2011 China imported USD $73 billion (28% year-onyear increase) and exported USD $53 billion (23% year-on-year increase). Soybeans accounted for around 40% of the total value of F&B imports, while dairy products, pork, and sugar are also common imported products. Beverage product manufacturing accounts for over 60% of the value, whilst food product manufacturing and processing accounts for around 40%.

Exports of EU food and beverages to China tripled between 2006 and 2011 from €0.9 billion to €3.3 billion respectively. There was extraordinary growth between 2009 and 2011 in particular, when exports to China more than doubled; from €1.5 billion to €3.3 billion in the space of two years. Looking into specific product sectors, it is meat products, alcoholic drinks and dairy products that are the leading EU exports to the China market, with a combined total of 66% of all EU food and drink exports in 2011. In terms of Chinese exports to the EU, top of the list are fish, fruit and vegetable products.

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