Imported food sees boost in sales from first CIIE
Updated 15:50, 06-Oct-2019
Lin Nan

The second annual China International Import Expo (CIIE) is only one month away. Like at the inaugural expo, many going to visit this year's event, also in Shanghai, have high expectations given last year's great success.

As the saying goes, food is the first necessity of the people. Food is one of the most popular imported products at the first CIIE. Some foreign brands bring their world-renowned imported food and drinks into China more easily, thanks to their presence at the CIIE and some relaxed customs policies.

"I like Belgian pears very much. I had never eaten one before. It was so tasty and juicy at my first bite. Now, I buy them every time I go shopping," said Shanghai resident He Aiqiu.

Like her, Chinese consumers are becoming more health-conscious and consuming more and more exotic fruits.

Tang Jiaya, a young mother, said, "I buy more foreign fruits nowadays. I ate a lot of avocados when I needed to lose weight after giving birth to my daughter."

Entering China in 1998, world-renowned fruit and vegetable company Dole has built up a network of over 1,600 retail sites in 150 cities nationwide. Even so, Dole said its participation in the first CIIE last year has greatly boosted its business and recognition in China.

"We reached over 100 potential business clients at last year's expo and made other connections afterward. Exhibiting at the expo is a kind of national endorsement for our brand. Consumers know that we are high-quality and reliable," said Wang Na, brand director of Dole (Shanghai) Fruits and Vegetables Trading Co., Ltd.

Rapid economic growth in China over the past decades has expanded the country's middle class, and they want better and fresher imported food on their dinner tables.

Fruit milkshake is Li Yanxin's favorite drink. She bought domestic fresh milk or imported normal-temperature milk in the past, but as customs processing took several days, the imported milk expired.

"I had to finish the imported fresh milk within three days of purchase because it was already very close to the expiry date when I bought it," Shanghai resident Li said.

She can now buy imported fresh milk within 72 hours of its production at a foreign farm. What made it possible was a trial policy from last year's CIIE, which allows a batch of pilot companies, including New Zealand dairy brand Theland, to improve the efficiency of its customs processing.

The benefits of the new policy were immediate, the brand's sales in China more than tripled in the first quarter of this year and reached a leading position in the import dairy market.

"The CIIE is a platform of policy innovation to encourage international trade more conveniently, allowing more foreign brands to bring high-quality products to Chinese consumers. Its benefit for companies is long-lasting. We are grateful that our brand can make the most of this platform," said Sheng Wenhao, board chairman of Theland New Cloud (Shanghai) Digimart Limited.

Companies say they have high expectations for the second CIIE in November and will bring more products or increase their offerings at the show to satisfy the growing appetites of Chinese consumers.