The giant Chinese appetite for online shopping has opened a wide new market for Latin American agricultural products: digital supermarkets. Multiple virtual grocery shops are making it easier for Latin American producers not only to sell their fruits and vegetables on the other side of the planet, but to understand, in real time, their Chinese customers’ tastes and preferences.
Changing demographics and rising income levels have led to a surge in China’s food imports, with overseas fruit purchases increasing 36% in 2018. With the help of technology and innovative business models, producers from Latin America are finding ways to better understand what Chinese consumers want and increase their sales.
Rise of the Online Supermarket
China has become the world’s largest and fastest-growing e-grocery market. Total sales, which were estimated at $51 billion in 2018, are projected to increase fourfold in the next five years (compare to $24 billion in the U.S. in 2018).
Camposol, one of Peru’s leading fruit exporters, signed a strategic agreement with Alibaba in May 2018. Under the partnership, Camposol sources from Peruvian growers to supply Alibaba with blueberries and avocados. The online sales channel is not just a source of revenue, but also a unique opportunity to access valuable point-of-sale data, such as consumer preferences, sales performance and inventory levels. This direct connection enabled by technology, linking both ends of the supply chain, allows producers to fine-tune their operations and meet customer demand.
In November 2018, trade promotion agency ProChile also signed agreements with several Chinese online retailers, including Alibaba and Suning, another major supermarket chain.
According to americasquarterly.org¸ Chile’s success has been aided by Chinese consumers’ love for cherries — red is considered a lucky color, and in recent years, the fruit has become a highly prized gift for family and friends during Chinese New Year.