China’s industrialisation has led to increased affluence amongst the population, and more people are exploring Western diets, rich in meat and dairy, over traditional Chinese foods.
This week the EU’s Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Mariann Fischer Boel is leading a delegation of 11 European food firms to China, under the ‘Tasty Europe’ banner. The aim is to kick start a promotional effort to increase joint business opportunities in the agri-food sector between the EU and China.
The food industry executives represent products for which “there is an EU presence on the Chinese market and where there is significant potential for growth in the future”.
Two representatives come from the dairy sector, two from meat and two from fresh fruit, while one represents cereal based products, fruit and juices. Spirits, wine, olive oil and potatoes are also included.
Fischer Boel pointed out that the EU’s agricultural trade with China has grown by some 82 per cent in the last four years. According to the CIAA, the EU’s total food and drink exports (to all markets) amounted to €54.7bn in 2007.
“We continue to see enormous potential on this market for our producers to tap into growing demand for high quality and traditional European food and drink with the very best food safety standards,” said the Commissioner.
The delegation coincides with the 10th annual SIAL food and beverage trade show in Shanghai, which opens its doors tomorrow. Around half the 1057 exhibitors hail from China and half are from overseas, say the organisers, who are expecting some 29,000 visitors.
“I look forward to working closely with the business delegation in finding out how best to do business in China,” she said.
Foreign firms often enter the Chinese market with local distributors or joint venture partners who can help them navigate the business and cultural environment there.
Fischer Boal will also be meeting with her Chinese counterpart agriculture minister Sun Zhengcai, as well as other government officials and business leaders.
Later this week she will launch an EU-China project on agri-environment policy.