China: Demand for perishables growing rapidly

China is widely recognised as an untapped market for perishables, but in order to provide real opportunities for shippers, the country needs to upgrade its cold supply chain. 

Increasing consumption of fruit and vegetables, dairy and meat in China, according to research from the Dutch agri-finance group Rabobank, “is being driven by continued economic growth and urbanization.”

Although China’s economic growth rate is slower and becoming more balanced, the country’s economy is nonetheless expected to grow by six percent to seven percent annually in the coming years. That growth, the Rabobank research indicates, “will elevate a further 38 million households into the upper middle class.” China’s appetite for fruit and vegetables, dairy, and meat is expected to increase by 17 percent over the next decade.

The country’s growing demand for fresh food offers huge opportunities for exporters of perishable foods, provided that China makes the required investments in transportation, storage, and distributions infrastructures, according to a Rabobank report. China’s more affluent consumers are making fresh foods more common in the Chinese diet. As fresh food demand increases in China, food and agribusinesses are searching for improvements in food safety, quality, and more efficient paths to the Chinese consumer.

“Food safety remains one of the biggest concerns for the Chinese consumer,” said Wilco Hendriks, CEO of Rabobank China. “China is improving its own food safety and security, reducing food waste, lowering healthcare costs and seeking better overall health improvements of the Chinese population. To meet the changing consumer needs, China is also looking at investments in the infrastructure and logistics of food transportation flows across domestic and international land routes instead of sea shipping lanes.”

Europe and the Netherlands in particular are major suppliers of food and agricultural products to China. Increasing prosperity and China’s growing demand for fresh food offers huge opportunities for imports from European food industry, but also require huge investments in cold chain infrastructure.


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