top of page
  • Writer's pictureNWITC

Exporting Food & Beverage to China: A Strategic Guide

Updated: Mar 11

May 26, 2022

The Chinese import food sector is a profitable and dynamic market. As China's middle class expands, so does its need for imported commodities, with a surge in demand for non-local foods such as cheese, olive oil, chocolate, and so on. Because of ingredient concerns, as well as safety and sanitary concerns, foreign products are frequently seen as safer than domestic items. Imported food also reacts to shifting consumer preferences among the younger generation, who favour Western brands over native names.

As a result, the Chinese market is appealing to companies and businesses looking to develop their operations in the world's most populous country. In this article, we will provide you with all of the secrets to effectively exporting your goods to China and utilizing the platforms at your disposal.

We have teamed up with the most recognizable and well-known Web & Marketing Agencies in China. Our services include E-Commerce, Search Engine Optimization, Advertising, Weibo, WeChat, WeChat Store, and Public Relations, among others.


China’s Imported Food: A Dynamic and Lucrative Industry

Overview of the Chinese Food Market

What Drives Food Imports in the Middle Kingdom?

Chinese Consumers’ Purchasing Behaviours

How are Chinese consumers looking for new products?

Why do Chinese consumers “prefer” imported products/brands?

Why is China a promising market for foreign food brands?

Taxes are decreasing

Chinese consumers are looking for new culinary experiences

In China, Imported Food Products can serve as Gifts

What are the challenges when exporting food products in China?

Steps to exporting food products to China: How do I start

Chinese regulations & Government Guidelines: export food safety

Do I need an export license to sell F&B goods in China?

How can F&B professionals increase their sales & profits in China?

What are the main channels of distribution for food Product & brand in China?

Selling food products offline: The classic strategy

Selling Food Products Online through your own website

Cross-Border E-Commerce platforms: The Best Way to Sell Imported products in China

Bet on Digital Platforms to Develop your E-Reputation in China

Social media are the best tools to increase your e-reputation

Improving your ranking on Baidu: China’s leading search engine

Gaining visibility thanks to influencers

Get in touch to export F&B brand in China?

How can Linked Digital Services help you?

China’s Imported Food: A Dynamic and Lucrative Industry

China is the world's second-largest economy and one of the most rapidly increasing marketplaces for food and beverage businesses. Its growing desire for higher-quality, premium, well-known food brands was driven by urbanization and an increase in disposable money, which was supported by China's digitalization. Before entering the Chinese food industry, you should aim to have a deeper grasp of the habits and consumption trends of Chinese customers.

Overview of the Chinese Food Market

When discussing imported goods in China, keep in mind that China's food supply has enormous consequences for both national food security and commercial commerce. Following many natural catastrophes hurting wheat and dairy production, Chinese residents, who consume more than half of their calories through grains, rely not only on domestic products but also on imports. In other words, China now produces insufficient food to feed its population.

A farmer carries water on a dried-up field in Xinqiao Township, Yi Autonomous Prefecture of Chuxiong, southwest China’s Yunnan Province, July 8, 2015. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

Imported F&B items sales in China have grown at a pace of 15% each year, whereas the global average is about 4%. Despite the fact that imported items benefit from a positive image among Chinese customers, this industry is very competitive, with both domestic and international firms. Furthermore, it is vital to note that imported items are subject to greater taxes than local products.

What Drives Food Imports in the Middle Kingdom?

The relative shifts in consumer goods production and demand growth have had an impact on China's position in the global food trade, as it has transitioned from being a significant international player that exports food items to one that imports.

(© Sixth tone)

The self-sufficiency of China’s agriculture has been declining due to the high demand as well as its large population. As of 2009, China was importing around 50% more than it was exporting (National Bureau of Statistics of China – NBSC). Among agricultural commodities, grains are recording the most rapid rise in imports from China. For example, while China was self-reliant on soybean and was even one of its main exporters, in 2020, its import reached 100.33 million tons. The Middle Kingdom is also seeing increased meat imports, with a growth rate reaching 44% between 2011 and 2015 (NBSC).

There are three main reasons that explain why the importation of food products into China is prosperous:

  • Food Safety

After the overwhelming number of food safety-related scandals in China (more than 1,090 in the last three years, according to Jing Daily), it is no surprise that it’s one of the top concerns among customers. In fact, Chinese consumers’ number one concern is food safety, which topped other worries such as water quality or air quality. The government strengthens its food safety law every year.

Because of increased salaries, China's middle class has grown significantly. Life standards have shifted, as have food patterns. They are now concerned with ensuring that their products are safe to consume. Indeed, in recent years, there have been several scandals (particularly involving maternal and newborn goods) that have made consumers less trusting of Chinese businesses, as well as, in certain cases, international food manufacturers. Thus, while exporting food to China, international firms have a chance to demonstrate that their products and ingredients are of higher quality and adhere to national food safety requirements.

According to the data above, 94 percent of respondents believe that there are numerous food scandals in China caused by dishonest firms that are not penalized. As a result, it is critical to adhere to safety requirements in order to compete and attract Chinese customers. To acquire their trust, you must be as straightforward and open as possible.

Around 86% of Chinese consumers pay attention to food security when buying their products. Another interesting point for foreign food producers: most Chinese consumers are against food additives.

88% of Chinese consumers in 1st and 2nd tier cities are against it, and 25% of them prefer to pay more if it does not contain any additive.

  • Healthy Food

Chinese consumers show greater interest in healthy food. It is true that today, consumers are paying more attention to their health and appearance. They are extremely attentive to their body weight, which is according to them synonym of good health.