19 Aug 2009
Opportunity to Go at Food Fair
|Tens of thousands of visitors packed Hong Kong's annual trade food fest|
Celebrating its 20th edition, this year's Food Expo, 13-17 August, hosted more than 600 exhibitors from 24 countries and regions, including companies from 10 countries participating for the first time.
Mexico Eyes Mainland
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"Our presence in the region is small at the moment," said Cesar Lopes, Trade Commissioner of the Mexico Consul General in Hong Kong. "We know the potential in this market is huge, and Food Expo is a good platform to start."
Mr Lopes said Mexican food companies are also eyeing the huge mainland market. "At the moment, it's hard to do direct business on the mainland. Our strategy is to meet Hong Kong distributors with mainland connections to help introduce our premier products there."
Mexican oyster exporter, Sol Azul, has been exporting to Hong Kong for about a year and, according to company executive Pedro Noriega, "we hope to find other opportunities in the region by being here."
"Our products are already well known in Hong Kong," said Celina Garcia, Marketing Director of abalone exporter Sociedad Cooperative de Produccion Pesquera. "But with Hong Kong close to the mainland, we're trying to open new markets. We're looking for Hong Kong distributors to help us do that."
Yonezou Arita, Senior Managing Director of Wagyu beef producer Arita, attended the Food Expo in search of a Hong Kong distributor for his premium meat
Mainland consumers have become more receptive of food products from various countries, and they're keen to try new tastes as their purchasing power rises. In recent years, the rapid development of such food sales channels as supermarkets and hypermarkets on the mainland has also brought in a wide variety of packaged foods and stimulated consumers' desire to purchase them. Retail sales of packaged goods posted an average annual growth of 10.8 per cent on the mainland, far above the regional average.
A recent HKTDC research report surveyed 1,440 residents between 20 and 60 in six mainland cities last October, covering Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Wuhan and Shenyang. The poll revealed that while mainland consumers still preferred fresh food for regular meals, a majority of respondents also stocked their homes with such packaged foods as chilled meats, instant noodles, frozen dim sum and canned food. Snack foods are also popular. Ninety-eight per cent of respondents said they are in the habit of snacking. Overall, dried fruit, including nuts, are the most popular snacks.
For more details on the mainland's packaged food market, please see the HKTDC Research report "China's Packaged Food Market" (Chinese), which can be ordered at http://www.hktdc.com/bookshop.
Many exhibitors from Miyazaki were introducing their products outside Japan for the first time. Wagyu beef producer Arita said it was looking for a Hong Kong distributor to market its all-natural, chemical-free meat in the city.
"Hong Kong is a good place to gauge the taste of Chinese consumers," said Arita's Senior Managing Director Yonezou Arita. "And through Hong Kong, we hope to introduce our product to mainland consumers."
|Fresh produce from Japan's Miyazake prefecture on display at this year's Food Expo|
Iranian exhibitors, meanwhile, want to expand their exports of dried fruit and nut products to other parts of Asia. "Hong Kong is an important market for Iranian companies," said Ali Khaksar, Overseas Exhibitions Director of Mashad International Exhibition Company, which organised the Iranian pavilion. He noted that, while Iran has been doing limited business in Asia for the last 30 years, now is the time to expand business in Asia.
Amid the global economic downturn many exhibitors are looking to the mainland market. "Hong Kong manufacturers and suppliers should take advantage of Food Expo to seek global buyers and attract Chinese mainland consumers," said Raymond Yip, HKTDC Assistant Executive Director.
Next year's Food Expo takes place 12-16 August.