More than just fish’n’chips

By Chen Shasha Source:Global Times Published: 2017/11/22 18:48:39

UK promotes food and drinks at 2017 FHC China exhibit

The 2017 FHC China, an annual international exhibition for food, drink, hospitality, food services, bakeries and retail industries, took place at Shanghai New International Expo Centre China last week.

Covering an area of 85,000 square meters, it attracted about 70 countries and regions and over 2,300 exhibitors. Professional events like 19th FHC China International Culinary Arts Competition, FHC Pastry & Bakery competition and 2018 China Barista Championship were also held during the three-day exhibition.

The event demonstrated its international focus by allowing national pavilions from over 40 countries and regions including the UK, Australia, Germany and Russia. The UK alone set up four pavilions.

Led by the UK's Department for International Trade (DIT), more than 60 food and drink companies exhibited a range of British brands including AHDB, T-sticks, Nemi Milk, Seabrooks, Appleby Creamery, Kendal Nutricare, Brothers, Badgers and Forest gin.

A unique British beer tasting experience was also held. The event was live-streamed to let Chinese consumers across the country know more about British brands. The efforts are parts of the Food is Great campaign, a cross-departmental initiative of the UK government to showcase its F&B culture.

Rising demand for imports

In recent years, the demand for imported food in China has risen rapidly. According to a July report released by General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of the People's Republic of China, the nation imported about 39 million tons of foreign food in 2016 from 187 countries and regions, which amounted to $46.62 billion in sales.

Imports of British food into China have been increasing. "Last year, our food exports to China grew by 50 percent," John Edwards, British Consul General in Shanghai, told the Global Times.

Stuart Dunn, head of food and drink of DIT, told Global Times that, in the first eight months of 2017, exports of British food and beverages to China increased dramatically, with salmon, milk powder, pork, whiskey and beer being the top five products.

High quality, high safety

According to Karen Morgan, agriculture, food and drink counsellor of British Embassy in Beijing, China became the UK's eighth most-important food and drink export market in the first half of 2017.

Dunn said that British companies have noticed the huge potential of the Chinese market and are moving their focus from European markets to China.

"People see China not just a marketplace, but also a global collaborator. We will see more British companies coming here in the future," Edwards said.

According to Edwards, food exports from the UK to China are its fastest growing sector. "I think it is because Chinese consumers are looking for different flavors, high quality, food safety as well as originality," Edwards explained.

Changing tastes

"Many Chinese think British food and drinks are dreadful," Edwards admitted, but added that he is confident that China's impressions of food from the UK are changing.

He explained that the UK now has 125,000 Chinese students and welcomes 750,000 Chinese tourists every year, all whom he believes will return with awareness that the UK can become as renowned for its food and drinks as, say France and Italy are.

Edwards said that there are two things to understand about British food. "One is that Britain always ensures its food is really fresh, clean and safe. The other thing is British cuisine has been constantly seeking innovation and creativity," he said.

"In reality, I think our beer, whiskey, gin and some of our cheese are the best in the world. Our meat is also the safest, cleanest and most organic," Edwards stated confidently.

"The gap between reality and perception is very high, but that means a huge opportunity [in China] for us."

John Edwards, British Consul General in Shanghai

Exhibitors introduce their products to visitors.

Exhibitors introduce their products to visitors.


Exhibitors introduce their products to visitors. Photos: Chen Shasha/GT




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