If your next seafood platter carries some suspiciously plump offerings your cause for concern may be justified. Shrimps pumped full of gelatin and expired flour at high-end bakeries usher in the latest wave of food scandals in China. With incidents like these always waiting around the corner it is little wonder Chinese consumers continue to turn to imported goods. This comes as Beijing considers regulations that will create even more barriers for foreign products. From as early as October, Chinese regulators are hoping to implement some of the most complex and draconian food import inspections standards on the planet.
Whilst some regulations appear to be straying from Xi Jinping’s mission to be the beacon for global trade, other positive regulatory news arrived last week. Beijing is backing down on tough new laws which had threatened new licensing and labelling requirements for cross border ecommerce and there is talk of speedier approvals for foreign health products.
The positive new regulations will put foreign imports in good stead to contribute further to the sensational growth of online food, beverage and FMCG products. Grocery-type products are the standout performer in Goldman Sachs’ latest study into Chinese online retail outlook.
Ecommerce already makes up a disproportionately large portion of foreign food and beverage sales in China. Foreign brands are estimated to be around 30-40% of online sales for food and beverage categories. By comparison, bricks & mortar retail is well south of 10%, although the two are very interrelated.
The growing significance of ecommerce as a channel makes it one of the most valuable areas for analysing and identifying food trends and one that China Skinny uses a lot. Big shopping platforms have search and sales data for hundreds of millions of consumers in real time, so can be a handy barometer for what’s hot in China.
In addition to the data, just looking at promotions that the big players are doing can also give some signals about trends to watch. The Alibaba-supported KOL trip down to Australia further emphasises that Alibaba thinks there is strong demand for Australian food, health and lifestyle products. Similarly, last year’s July 4 Tmall Live campaign focusing on American retail and health brands shows some of the popular categories coming from the US.
If you are looking for a snapshot of online trends, we have taken some recent Alibaba food data and created an infographic to illustrate what food is selling, to whom and from where. We hope you find it interesting. Go to Page 2 to see this week’s China news and highlights.