Wednesday, August 22 09:55:42
The huge Chinese market for imported food is growing at an amazing rate as Chinese consumers switch from domestic produce due to safety concerns. More Chinese consumers have turned to imported food and brands due to rising concerns over food safety in recent years, according to a survey by international research company Ipsos. According to the survey, based on interviews with 2,100 respondents, 61 percent of Chinese consumers said their confidence in domestic foods has declined in the past year, and 28 percent said they will buy more imported foods or brands to replace domestic products.
Dairy products are the most purchased imported foods, at 77 percent, followed by grains and oil, at 57 percent, and children's food, at 56 percent. The report said consumers' preferred imported foods or brands because of stricter safety controls during packaging and processing, the absence of unhealthy additives and rigorous product testing. In 2011, the total output of China's food industry amounted to 7.8 trillion yuan ($1.2 trillion), up from 47.3 billion yuan in 1978, according to the Chinese Institute of Food Science and Technology. "The challenges have also increased amid the food industry's robust growth. 'Lean meat powder', melamine-tainted milk, gutter oil and chemical dyed steamed buns ... all of these have drawn much attention from Chinese consumers," said Jennifer Tsai, managing director of innovation and forecasting of Ipsos Marketing in China.
Successive food safety crises have become a significant factor in influencing consumer habits and behavior, with 76 percent of respondents saying that this would make them seek an alternative product. Meanwhile, the report said consumers tend to choose major, international and imported brands. Gloria Gao, a 29-year-old office worker, said she stopped buying domestic milk brands two years ago. "Due to safety concerns, I would prefer to buy imported milk, although it's much more expensive than domestic milk," said Gao, who recently purchased a box of German milk online. "In recent years, we have seen endless scandals. Government supervision of food safety doesn't seem to work," she said.
The survey found that raw and fresh meat and seafood, grains and oil, and dairy products are the areas of greatest concern according to China Daily. Online supermarket Yihaodian.com said sales of its imported products in June had increased fivefold year-on-year. Imported dairy products, biscuits and confectionery, drinks and coffee are very popular among its customers, said a statement from Yihaodian's marketing department. An employee at a branch of high-end supermarket chain City Shop in Shanghai said: "In the past, foreigners accounted for the majority of our customers. But now we see more and more local residents coming here."