- China's imported food market is mainly concentrated in tier 1 and 2 cities. The stereotypical consumers of imported foods are middle class and married.
- Dairy products and infant foods are the most popular categories of imported foods in China.
- The fresh food sector offers high potential investment opportunities for international stakeholders.
- The compound growth rate of aquatic products and meat are growing at a faster rate than other categories of imported food.
Overview of China's Imported Food Market from 2018 to 2019
During 2009-2018, imports of food in China grew at a CAGR of 17.7%. In 2018 the value of china’s food imports exceeded US$70 billion. At present, 57.5% of consumers spend more than 10% of their total food expenditure on imported food, increasing nearly 5% from the previous years. In addition, first- and second-tier cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Tianjin, and Suzhou are major cities for imported food consumption.
New opening up policies (such as ‘the Belt and Road’) and the introduction of trade facilitation measures has seen China's imported food trade partners grow from 108 to 170, covering 73.9% of the countries and regions in the world.
Imported Food Market Popularity
Dairy products and Baby Food are the Most Popular Imported Foods
Imported dairy products are extremely popular in China accounting for 23.2% of all imported foods. Infant foods takes up a market share of 19.7%.
Fresh Foods Offer Great Potential for International Stakeholders
Due to the development of e-commerce in China and the improvement of supply chain technology, the market value of fresh foods such as aquatic products and meat have grown rapidly. In 2013-2018, the compound growth rate of these two types of foods both exceeded 14%, ranking the top two in all categories of imported food.
For more info on China's imported food market read China Import & Market Data of Major Food Sectors 2018
Market Performance by Demographics
A large proportion of the single people living in China are 'Otaku' (i.e. males or females that stay at home all the time). Their most frequent purchase is snacks (45.5%), milk products (41.8%) and beverages (32.7%). For these consumers, the taste of the food is the most important consideration.
According to iResearch's data, young couples without babies purchased imported foods most frequently, accounting for 60.5% of the people who buy imported foods each week.
Married people are the main purchasers of imported foods, accounting for 82.1% of all consumers. Married couples with a baby account for the large volume and value of imported infant foods consumed by this group. Their purchasing preference is shaped by demand for imported foods which are healthy, non-polluted and organic.
Big Family with Three Generations
Bigger families with three generations tend to purchase a wider variety of product categories, and the frequency is also higher. In a single purchase, nearly 20% of the households spent more than 500 RMB.
Please click here to see the key consumer groups in China's F&B Sector
How to Realize Continuous Growth in Food Importation
Guarantee Food Safety and Quality
In 2019, Chinese consumers placed the highest priority on safety (55.7%) and quality (51.0%) when purchasing food. In addition, imported foods are favored by Chinese consumers because of their nutritional health, brand reputation, reasonable pricing and taste. International stakeholders should pay close attention to the revision of China's import and export food regulations and standards, and stay abreast of relevant market access requirements including all relevant regulations, administrative rules etc.
Utilizing New Technology
The supply chain should be improved focusing on cold chain technology and logistics. These steps should be taken to further expand the imports of fresh products and ensure product quality, especially for aquatic products, meat etc.
The Belt and Road
In 2017, China’s government published ‘Belt and Road’ policy. After the policy has been implemented, regions such as Southeast Asia and the Middle East have benefited with exports from these regions to China growing by 10.3%.