• Food Beverage Agriculture
  • retail
  • china

Retail Foods Change and Opportunity in China

China remains one of the most dynamic retail markets in the world and offers great opportunities for food exporters. Exporters should be aware of several new trends that are changing China’s retail landscape. Imported food consumption growth is shifting from China’s major coastal metropolitan areas (e.g., Shanghai and Beijing) to the dozens of Second-and-Third Tier cities throughout China. China is experimenting with new retail models, such as 24-hour unstaffed convenience stores and expanded mobile payment platforms. E-commerce sales continue to grow, but major e-commerce retailers are competing for shrinking numbers of new consumers.

We encourage U.S. exporters not to consider China as a single retail market but as five separate retail markets, with anywhere from 100 million to 300 million consumers in each region. There are five regions, Northeast China, the Beijing Capital region, Eastern China, Southeastern China, and Southwestern China. Each has its own consumer preferences, product channels, and logistics.

Executive Summary

In 2016, China’s GDP reached $11.4 trillion, positioning the country as the second largest economy in the world after the United States and the largest and most influential economy in Asia. China is a major producer of food and agricultural products and a major importer of grain and soybeans. Producers, food processors, wholesalers, retailers, food service operators, and food importers are all part of a well-developed agribusiness sector, contributing to a domestic scenario that is competitive and dynamic. China is also an important importer. In 2017, imports of agricultural products reached $140 billion, an increase of 6.5 percent compared to 2016.

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