China, with its 1.3 billion population, is one of the world's largest consumers of food, chomping through 51 per cent of the world's pork, 33 per cent of rice and 19 per cent of ice cream.
And while most consumers still prefer to purchase fresh foods, there is a clear shift towards processed foods, throwing up untold opportunities for western food firms faced with saturated sales in home markets.
Official statistics report that the Chinese food processing industry grew a considerable 16 per cent between 2001-2002 and 23 per cent for 2002-2003.
The market for processed foods is particularly strong in urban areas where higher concentrations of wealth and busier lifestyles have led many to seek out more convenient alternatives to cooking with fresh ingredients.
Demands for healthier choices, convenience, variety and quality are opening the door to high quality imported ingredients.
Kagome said this week it has signed an agreement with Tianjin Tyngyi International Food, a subsidiary of Chinese food group Tingyi and the Itochu corporation.
From spring 2006 Kagome branded juices will be sold through the joint venture, called Kagome (Hangzhou) Foods.
Kagome will hold a 61 per cent stake in the new company while Itochu and Tianjin Tygyi International Food will own 10 per cent and the remaining 29 per cent, respectively.
In Europe vegetable and fruit juices are gaining ground on the carbonates because as consumers become increasingly health-conscious.
Among many studies investigating the impact of certain juice on health, a study released last month suggested that certain polyphenols abundant in fruit and vegetable juices may play an important role in delaying the onset of Alzheimer's disease.
Amy Borenstein from the University of South Florida said that her team had found a 75 per cent reduced risk of the disease among elderly people who drank fruit or vegetable juices at least three times per week compared with those who drank these juices less than once a week.