The products required can be classified into three main categories:
1.Bulk Products / Commodities.
Beef and other various animal products and associated byproducts like pig trotters etc.
Yes, you read it right. We import a lot of meat, from the rest of the world. For example we buy a lot of chicken and it’s byproducts from Brazil, and China is the #1 importer country of UK’s pork products.
You may think it’s since China is the one of biggest agriculture countries in the world. Why do we need to import so much meat?
Though China produces an immense amount of food annually, most is arable such as wheat and rice in order to feed the huge population in China. But as the rapidly expanding middle classes in China, no longer just want to feed themselves to survive, they also want to eat better. Consequently they demand a far greater diversity of food products with a higher proportion of animal based foods, meat products, by comparison, are cheaper in Europe
Other bulk products like Oil, Ore and etc are also needed in China.
2.Well known branded products
Products such as Aptamil, Cow&Gate and Firso with some well-known Breakfast Cereals and many other famous branded products are favored.
Although we have many domestic brands equivalent to these, these have a very short history compared to the well-known global brands (We barely had enough food to support the population before the 1970s, and no one could afford such things like milk powder at that time. This was true for a vast majority of the population) Therefore, Chinese consumers tend to trust these well-known branded products even when prices compared to home brands are considerably higher. Because we believe these brands have been existing so many years, they must be far better than these newly founded brand in China.The consensus is that if a product has been in existence for many years then it will naturally be more flavorsome and wholesome.
A good example are breakfast cereals. It is only in recent years that the younger generation have started to experiment with breakfast cereals and the trend is growing. Since most domestic cereal factories in China were only founded a few years ago, their products leave a lot to be desired in terms of quality and taste. Compared to their competitors in Europe (who have a long history of development and production) and know how to make the best cereal in the world China has a long way to go to catch up.
In this sense, people tend to choose some well-known branded products from Europe. Because most people especially these middle classes, they care more about quality and taste rather than cheap price.
3. Local Prestigious Products
In the eyes of many Chinese consumers, they have a strong generalization towards some products and countries.
For instance, if you ask them which country has the best wine, most of them will say France without being able to tell you why, and most of them never drink wine nor can they tell the difference between some decent wines and cheap ones without seeing the brand label.
Consequently, when they buy wine, they tend to buy the ones from France.
Similarly, when you talk about Whiskey, they will automatically think about Scotland; when you talk about beer, they will think about Germany. And all these products are hotly demanded in China, because people have a preconception that these “best products” are the ones to have. There are other products in other categories needed in China, but these three types are the most common ones.
If you can think of other products which are quite popular in China. Please feel free to leave a comment.