Multinational food firms eye China's vast market
CIIE acts as a ‘catalyst’ to transform top-selling items
Published: Nov 10, 2022 09:22 PM
A visitor admires hydroponic vegetable and flower technology at the CIIE on November 6, 2022.Photo:VCG

A visitor admires hydroponic vegetable and flower technology at the CIIE on November 6, 2022.Photo:VCG

American snack giant Mondelez, also the parent company of Oreo, officially launched two Oreo frozen cheesecakes at the fifth China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai.

Mondelez will take the opportunity of the cake launch to tap into the large, fast-growing baked food sector in China, said Joost Vlaanderen, president of Mondelez Greater China.

With the boom of China's internet, logistics and cold chain technologies, the country's snack food industry has entered the fast lane of development.

Data from the China National Food Industry Association showed that the sector had a compound growth rate of nearly 12 percent from 2013 to 2018. In 2020, the size of China's snack food market reached 1.25 trillion yuan ($173 billion). Such a huge market has lured food giants from various countries.

The partner of the newly launched Oreo frozen cakes is Fonterra, a New Zealand dairy raw material supplier, which also attended this year's CIIE.

Pushing cooperation

"Chinese consumers' demand for healthy and delicious products has continued to accelerate, so we are looking forward to this product pushing the cooperation between Mondelez and Fonterra to a new height," Dai Junqi, vice president of Fonterra Greater China, said.

At this year's CIIE, major food brands brought their latest products and cutting-edge food production technologies, hoping to satisfy the tastes of Chinese consumers and enter the vast Chinese market.

"The CIIE is not just about China's domestic market anymore," said Larry Chan, chairman of Liwayway (China) Co, adding that through the CIIE, Liwayway could bring its international products into China, and the event also allowed the company to forge partnerships with international players.

Chan said the Chinese market currently accounts for 40 percent of Liwayway's global business, and the company has long-term development plans in China.

As China has entered a new stage of consumption upgrading in recent years, Chinese consumers' demand for imported high-quality fruits has also been rising.

From more than 50 exhibits in the first CIIE to 82 exhibits this year, Dole, a fresh fruit and vegetable company, has participated in the annual event for five consecutive years. This year, the company signed orders worth $170 million at the CIIE.

Catalyst for transformation

"The CIIE is a catalyst to transform exhibits into commodities and products into top-selling items," said Vivian Wang, marketing director of Dole China. "Our Dole Sweetio banana and Dole Sweetio pineapple, as star products from the CIIE, have been sold to Tibet and Xinjiang."

According to Wang, sales of Dole Sweetio pineapples soared after its debut at last year's CIIE, exceeding expectations by more than 10 times in 2022.

"Meanwhile, the CIIE is an excellent stage for new product launches. The global influence of the CIIE has helped Dole establish a good brand image," Wang said.

The promotion of localization has become an important way for foreign enterprises to compete for the "big cake" of China's food market.

In recent years, Dole has ramped up its investment in China, building new distribution centers in the cities of Guiyang, Chengdu and Chongqing, and it plans to continue expanding into the southwestern market.

"In a market as competitive as China, you need to deeply understand what consumers want," said Joost Vlaanderen, president of Mondelez Greater China.

"That's why in Suzhou, we have a world-famous research and design center where we develop and design products. We make our products here so that we can deliver to consumers what they want at the speed of China," he added.