Mid Autumn Goody Box – fancier food for a traditional festival

Mid-Autumn Festival (Moon Festival) is a harvest festival, celebrated in China and other East Asian countries. Mid-Autumn Festival is the second most important festival in China after Chinese New Year. To the Chinese, the festival means family reunion and harmony. It is celebrated when the moon is full, and Chinese people believe a full moon is a symbol of reunion, harmony, and happiness. It’s always in September or October, on month 8 day 15 of the Chinese lunar calendar. In 2019, it will fall on September 13.

I have introduced that festival in my post on moon cakes, the typical food eaten on that festival. I have tried to keep you abreast with the latest trends on that post. I will continue to do so, but I recently received a note from a Chinese friend who had been given a Mid Autumn Gift Box, containing exquisite moon cakes, but also a few other luxury versions of Chinese local delicacies, not necessarily consumed during the Mid Autumn Festival.

Trends

This box represents a number of current trends and describing the contents of this box therefore gives a good insight in those trends; so good, that I prefer to do so in a post, rather than add it to the Trends page of my blog. The two trends are:

  • Goody boxes; goody boxes containing samples of part or all of the product range of a manufacturer has become a vogue in China this year. One of earliest of such presentations was a box of single portions of nuts and seeds by Three Squirrels. Such boxes suit Chinese communitarian culture: you can share the box with your family, colleagues or friends.
  • Local specialties; regional governments have become more aware of the value of local delicacies and have started actively developing their production to comply with the expectations of the modern Chinese consumer. Look, e.g., to my post on Jinhua Ham for a successful example. You can consult my post on local cuisines to find the locations mentioned here.

The box

So, now have a look at the overview picture, showing the fancy top of the box and its contents.

It includes a 3, because the manufacturer is supplying three grades. I am describing the top grade in this post. This is what was in the box my friend was presented.

Honey glazed walnut kernels from a mountainous region of Yunnan province

Dried apricots from Xinjiang in China’s far West.

Red can sugar candy from Lincang, Yunnan; it makes a sweet drink by solving it in hot water.

Spicy dried beef from Hunan province.

And, last but not least, fancy mooncakes.

  • Two milk tea moon cakes;
  • Two macha cassia moon cakes;
  • Two red tea moon cakes.

Chinese have been eating walnuts, dried apricots or beef jerky as a snack for ages, but in this day and age, you need to get your walnuts from the high mountains of Yunnan or from an outpost of the ancient Silk Road to arouse the interest of present-day Chinese consumers. And, you have to wrap everything in packs and boxes matching the high quality of the foods. It makes you wonder what the next step will be.

Eurasia Consult Food knows the Chinese food industry since 1985. Follow us on Twitter.

Eurasia Consult Consulting can help you embed your business in Chinese society.

Peter Peverelli is active in and with China since 1975.

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Eating grass – Chinese slowly discovering salads as meals

Many Chinese still describe eating mixed chopped raw vegetables as ‘eating grass’

Although vegetables have always been a major ingredient of the Chinese diet, they have never liked eating them raw, unlike their neighbours in Korea or Japan. Chinese are traditionally suspicious towards any raw food, meat, fish, or vegetable, only fruits are eaten raw. Chinese starters do include raw or semi-raw vegetables, but with an emphasis on the latter and always well-seasoned, to mask the earthy taste of raw vegetables.

One of the eating habits Westerners brought to China when they started living there was eating mixed chopped raw vegetables as meals. Chinese observing this described those Westerners as ‘eating grass (chi cao)’. This expression is still very common. Whenever my wife and I spend some time in Beijing, we meet a befriended couple in an Italian chain restaurant in a shopping mall near their home, where we have some wine and order one dish after another, slowly, often extending our stay to several hours. We always start with a few plates of various salads, which our friend describes as ‘chatting over a glass of wine, while eating some grass’. This is not a derogatory term. We all enjoy the mixes of fresh vegetables with various toppings: tuna meat, chunks of fish, etc. It is filling while not fattening.

There, salads are still part of a larger meal that also includes other types of food. Actually, ordering a salad as a complete meal is something that has only recently entered the Chinese food scene. However, it is definitely gaining ground. There are already a number of dedicated salad bars active in China.

The leading chain is Wagas. According to the introduction of its website, A young Dane named John F. Christensen had once trouble finding a good sandwich in Shanghai. And so, he opened a café – Wagas. Founded in 1999, Wagas is a chain of café-like restaurants serving – sandwiches, pasta, salads, cake, fresh juice and coffee. I first experience with Wagas was when a Shanghai friend and I were invited by a local business man to discuss a proposal. Interestingly, my friend knew the place and hated it so much that she refused to order anything but a coffee. I ordered a salad consisting of various finely chopped vegetables mixed with other ingredients including quinoa. It was topped with a few slices of good quality beef, hence its name: beef salad. I enjoyed it, washing it down with a healthy smoothie.

The second chain is Element Fresh, a rather clumsy translation of the Chinese name Xinyuansu. Its ‘signature salads’ look quite similar to those of Wagas. The ingredients are chopped less finely and I seem to miss a few of the finer ingredients like quinoa. For the remainder Element Fresh is good copy of Wagas.

Max & Salad is not even a clumsy translation of the Chinese name: Dakaishajie, literally: ‘widely open the salad world’. This chain again offers less refined versions of what you can order at Wagas. I haven’t discovered an English version of their web site, so apparently, they are concentrating on domestic consumers.

Miyoushala, what literally means ‘rice has salad’, is a transliteration of Meal Salad. The salads offered a getting courses, as we are descending on the ranking. However, Meal Salad salads are served with one or two slices of bread. That does not only address the expectations of Western patrons, but also appeals to the Chinese stomach’s need for a bit of staple food.

So Sala sounds frivolous, but is a rendering of shousala, which means: ‘lean salad’. The name says it all. Moreover, this chain positions itself as organic. The salads are, however, again more coarsely chopped than the one that I savoured at Wagas. Also note the avocado. Avocados are getting quite popular in China as a healthy food ingredient.

Sexy Salad is a direct translation of haose shala (this actually means ‘lecherous salad’, so the English translation is rather euphoric). However, haose literally means ‘to love colours’, which here also refers to the various colours of the ingredients. The salads are more of the same, but this company is very much focused on online sales.

These are the salad bars that are operating and seemingly viable at the time of writing this post. A recent market survey has counted the number of outlets in a few important cities.

 

City Wagas EF M&S SoS SS
Shanghai 33 16 12 6
Beijing 9 10
Shenzhen 3 2 2
Guangzhou 1 2 2 5
Hangzhou 3 2 2
Nanjing 2 2 3
Wuxi 1 4 1
Wuhan 1 1 1 1
Chengdu 2 1 1

 

Beijing is the only northern city included in this study. Guangzhou and Shenzhen are both located in the Pearl River Delta. Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou and Wuxi represent the Yangtze Delft. Wuhan and Chengdu are provincial capitals in central and southwest China respectively. Please, consult my post on China’s Major Food Regionsfor those locations.

The concept of salad as a meal is there to stay in China, but the market is highly volatile and we can expect to see a number of chains to come and disappear again. Anyway, I will regularly refresh the information on this post.

Eurasia Consult Food knows the Chinese food industry since 1985. Follow us on Twitter.

Eurasia Consult Consulting can help you embed your business in Chinese society.

Peter Peverelli is active in and with China since 1975.

The market for functional beverages in China seems rather redbullish

In view of the still strong influence of TCM on Chinese eating and drinking habits, China is a paradise for functional beverages

I already mentioned functional beverage in my general post on drinks, but the developments on the Chinese functional beverage scene have been so rapid lately, that it is time to dedicate a special post to this market. The interest in this type of drinks is not a surprise. TCM-based tonics have been an essential part of Chinese life almost since the beginning of Chinese culture. As has been introduced in the post on that topic, TCM has a much larger overlap with food than Western medicine. A core term in TCM is bu‘to supplement’. Most Chinese herbal medicines are in fact supplements, helping the human body to regain balance.

Wanglaoji

The very first functional beverage, obviously based on TCM, in China probably is Wanglaoji, also known by its Cantonese pronunciation: Wong lo kat. Wanglaoji is said to be a product that was invented by Wang Zebang (nicknamed Wang Ji ) from Heshan in Guangdong province in 1828. It withstood the turbulent modern history of China from the fall of the Qing Dynasty, the civil wars and the war with Japan and the foundation of the PRC and is currently sold as a herbal tea, with the ingredients being seven different kinds of Chinese herbal plants.

Water, sugar, mesona, dan hua (Apocynaceae species), Bu zha ye (Microcos paniculata Linn), chrysanthemum flowers, jin yin hua (Lonicera japonica Thunb.), Prunella vulgaris, and licorice.

Although these are all medicinal herbs, Wanglaoji is basically consumed as a soothing drink, not for curing a particular ailment. However, due to the high sugar content, it does provide quite a lot of energy. One sip a few years ago was enough for me. Wanglaoji has become extremely popular during the early 21stcentury, but has been plagued by a trademark dispute between the state owned Guandong-based producer and a Hong Kong-based company set up by a descendant of Wang Zebang who moved to Hong Kong after the founding of the PRC.

Red Bull

When Wanglaoji was gaining popularity, Red Bull had already been introduced in 1995. This foreign, though also Asian, energy drink was welcomed by many, but also greeted with suspicion by the authorities. Red Bull was ordered to indicate on its cans that the wonder liquid was ‘not suitable for young children and pregnant women’. Until that time, the only indigenous drink resembling a modern functional beverage was Jianlibao, an electrolyte drink launched in 1984, when it was made the official beverage of the Chinese participants of the LA Olympics.

It was a best-selling drink through the 1990s, but has since then suffered from mismanagement. Recently, Red Bull China has also become troubled by quarrels among its investors. You can read all about that on the Net. This strife seems to be a common ill of Wanglaoji, Jianlibao and Red Bull. Perhaps the managers involved are drinking too much of their own beverages. Still, Red Bull alone generated a turnover exceeding RMB 20 billion in 2018 in a market whose value is estimated at RMB 50 billion by insiders, making Red Bull still China’s number one functional beverage, by far.

With the growing spending power, combined with an increased interest in health and wellness, of Chinese consumers, several new functional drinks have been launched during the past 2 – 3 years: sport drinks, vitamin drinks, energy drinks, you name it. Not all of these new beverages have been able to reach a critical mass, but some of them seem to be there to stay, at least for a while. In this post, I will introduce a two more that seem to have good prospects.

Hi-Tiger

Dali Food Group has been mentioned in several earlier posts in this blog, but always for its bakery products: bread and biscuits. However, Dali is also the producer of Hi-Tiger energy drink. One look at the ad is sufficient to see that not much R&D had to spent on developing this product. The ingredients list confirms this impression.

Taurine, L-lysine, inosine, caffeine, vitamins B6 and B12, sugar, citric acid, sodium citrate, tartrazine.

Dali advertises heavily and is producing the drink various local plants to ensure a continuous supply. The brand sponsors the China Basketball Association.

Eastroc

Eastroc Beverages was established in Shenzhen, Guangdong, in 1987, as a state owned enterprise. It was privatised in 2003 as the Eastroc Group. It launched its energy drink in 1998 and once more the design of the bottle resembles that of Red Bull. The ingredients list is also getting a little boring.

Water, sugar, citric acid, flavours, caffeine, inositol, sodium benzoate, amaranth, nicotinic acid, vitamins B6 and B12, lysine, taurine.

Eastroc sponsored the Portuguese football team during the World Cup in Russia in 2018. It is also the Official Supplier of the 2018/2019 Chinese Super League (CSL).

These are the top energy drinks in China at the moment. The most salient feature of this market is that it is on one hand huge and on the other hand extremely boring, with the numbers two and three doing the utmost to imitate the leader. This leaves lucrative opportunities for the a genuinely innovative product; I would say: one based on TCM, or perhaps herbal traditions from other parts of the globe?

The other side: Dream Dream Water

Amidst this fierce battle between older and newer suppliers of energy drinks, candy maker Want Want launched its Dream Dream Water (Mengmengshui) in 2019. It is a herbal tea that claims to make you sleep better. Its main ingredients in GABA, that is sometimes taken for relieving anxiety and improving mood. The market, professionals and consumers have received the drink with mixed feelings. As soon as I have an opportunity to try it, I will add my personal comments here.

Eurasia Consult Food knows the Chinese food industry since 1985. Follow us on Twitter.

Eurasia Consult Consulting can help you embed your business in Chinese society.

Peter Peverelli is active in and with China since 1975.

Fruit jelly in China – struggling to come back

From extremely popular to off the shelves – fruit jelly flirting with consumers to recoup their market

People with experience in Asia probably know the stuff: brightly coloured fruit flavoured jelly in small plastic cups. Chinese women, as well as their sisters from many other East Asian nations, cannot get enough of fruit jellies. You rip off the sealing foil and suck the entire jelly into your mouth. There, it will start melting instantly and you can enjoy (if fruit jelly is your thing) the feeling as if you have just taken a huge sip of fruit juice. The effect is partly caused by a mixture of texturisers, flavours and colourants, but who cares. Well, parents did, when a few children almost choked to death on the things.

You need to be careful when giving them to younger children. Even though they melt quickly in the oral cavity, if you suck with so much enthusiasm that the thing ends up in your windpipe, you are in trouble. A number of such incidents happened and Chinese retailers reacted in a very Chinese way: they took all fruit jellies from the shelves. That radical measure will certainly protect the children, but is a big blow to the producers. And the market is huge. It has grown into an RMB 25 billion industry, with about 300 serious manufacturers in China alone. They want their market back and who would dare to blame them.

The original thing

Before I look at how some manufacturers are trying to win back the market, let’s have a look at the original standard fruit jelly. The main ingredients of fruit jelly are:

fruit juice, carrageenan, konjac sodium alginate, water and sugar.

Production is relatively easy. Just mix the ingredients, fill it into the cups, close the cups, refrigerate to set and you can package and dispatch them.

Fruit jelly is obviously not a very nutritious food. However, it is still better than the average candy. It does not contain much fat and some of the texturisers used are dietary fibre that helps the bowel function.

Insiders distinguish four types of fruit jelly producers.

  1. The big players for whom fruit jelly is their core product; like market leader Xizhilang (22.1% market share in 2019);
  2. Candy makers that also produce fruit jelly; like Hsufuchi (introduced in another post in this blog about biscuits; 2.8% market share) or Want Want (introduced in various posts about beverages; 5.5% market share);
  3. Specialist food companies for which fruit jelly fits in the product line; like pudding maker Qiaomama (Clever Mummy) that specialises in pudding for children (see the Trends page of this blog).
  4. Local companies supplying their own regional market.

Innovation

Taiwan-based manufacturer of leisure food Want Want seems to be leading these efforts by launching a number of varieties that call for a slightly different way of consuming fruit jellies, thus reducing the risk of choking.

Soft pudding

Soft puddings do not contain trans-fat and have a protein content of more than 1.1 g/100g. They are chewier than the traditional fruit jellies and therefore invite to bite and chew on, rather than sucking them in at once.

Weiduoli

Li means ‘pellet’ and refers to the small chunks of fruit in the jelly. Want Want claims that Weiduoli contains at least 5% of fruit. However, the most innovative aspect of Weiduoli is that it comes in a soft bottle, so you can suck it in small sips, rather than swallowing an entire piece of fruit jelly.

Fruit flesh jelly

This is fruit jelly with a 20% – 25% fruit content. It is more like pieces of fruit held together by jelly. This as well invites to consume it by biting off small pieces and properly chew it. It also has more dietary fibre than the classic jellies, obviously. And if you are lucky, you may even hit some remaining traces of vitamins and minerals.

Yaogundong (Rock ‘n Roll Jelly)

I’m sure that most readers love this variety even before trying it. This product is sold in a cup resembling that used to sell ice cream. The cup contains a few jellies in the traditional packing and a layer of fruit flavoured powder. According to an advertising video that is entertaining even for readers who cannot understand the Chinese, you can consume these jellies in three ways:

  1. eat the jellies in the traditional way;
  2. take them out, roll them through the powder and eat them;
  3. Wet your finger, dip it in the powder and eat the powder;

This is a clever move. Children will be tempted to go for the second way, which will slow down their moves and diminish the risk of choking to a minimum. However, I wonder if this variety will survive. I will keep you posted.

With so much innovative energy from the competition, market leader Xizhilang is also introducing a floral type of fruit jelly to re-interest its patrons in their products. Perhaps this more elegant fancy look will make consumers less eager to suck the jelly up at once.

Eurasia Consult Food knows the Chinese food industry since 1985. Follow us on Twitter.

Eurasia Consult Consulting can help you embed your business in Chinese society.

Peter Peverelli is active in and with China since 1975.

China and luncheon meat – a remarkable relationship

When I first lived in China as a student in 1975, I recall that I was surprised to find domestic canned luncheon meat in the shops. My mind apparently did not immediately associate luncheon meat with China. That assumption was ungrounded. China is the number one pork nation, with almost half of all pigs in the world living there. Pork is so common in China, that in the names of Chinese pork dishes it is usually simply referred to as rou ‘meat’. So, when you see xiangla rousi (Fragrant Spicy Meat Shreds) on the menu of a Chinese restaurant, you can be almost sure that the meat is pork. Some northern Chinese use the term darou (‘big meat’) for pork, hinting that it is the main type of meat in their diet. Also see my previous post on types of meat in China.

The non-association was probably based on the fact that luncheon meat was a regular item in our kitchen when I was young. It was (and still is) a convenient ingredient to meat up a dish when you are in a hurry. You can slice it or dice it, eat it raw, stir it through your almost finished pasta or fried rice, or whatever.

Growing demand

And that is exactly the reason why the consumption of luncheon meat has been increasing so rapidly in China during the past few years. The following table shows the consumption of from 2012 to 2018.

Year Consumption (mt)
2012 136,000
2013 155,000
2014 181,000
2015 213,000
2016 256,000
2017 298,000
2018 347,000

That is a continuous double-digit growth. However, when you look at the absolute figures and compare them with the size of the Chinese population, you don’t need a calculator to figure out that this growth rate can continue for quite a while. With the expansion of the modern life style with its much faster pace to second and third tier Chinese cities, the demand for convenient cooking ingredients will grow with it.

A quick and nutritious dish: egg-coated slices of luncheon meat

Opportunity for whom?

Does this mean that international suppliers of luncheon meat should see China as their major target for growth in the coming years? Well, yes and no. Yes, because the growth will take place; no, because you have to cope with fierce competition from domestic competitors. The following table shows the local production of luncheon meat for the same years.

Year Production (mt)
2012 476,000
2013 496,000
2014 522,000
2015 503,000
2016 539,000
2017 619,000
2018 701,000

Again, no calculator is needed to see that, even with the little dip in 2015, domestic production exceeds demand for each year. Moreover, the annual increase has fastened since 2016.

Export/import

China is exporting luncheon meat to various parts of the world. However, it has been surprisingly difficult to find statistics with similar details as for consumption and production. This is perhaps related to a number of quality issues that have occurred in various countries importing Chinese luncheon meat.

In spite of the sufficient domestic production, China is importing some luncheon meat as well. Hormel’s seminal Spam is obviously available, followed by Tulip from Denmark. There is also Betchina from Russia.

Top brands

 

Top domestic brands are Maling from Shanghai, Gulong from Xiamen and Yingjinqian from Guangzhou, in that order. It is not easy to categorise domestic products. Let’s try do so on the basis of ingredients. The following table lists the ingredients as indicated by the above three producers.

Brand Ingredients
Maling pork, water, corn starch, vegetable protein
Gulong pork, water, corn starch, salt
Yingjinqian meat, potable water, starch, vegetable protein

Gulong stands out in that it does not add protein from other sources than meat. Gulong is also the only product indicating salt as an ingredient. We can be sure that the other producers are also adding salt, but fail to mention it.

 

Military lunch – also for civilians

An interesting special category of Chinese luncheon meat are those produced by military manufacturers. I have already posted about military food in China and indicated that this industry is also selling to the general public for commercial reasons. The top product in this category is Lingxiang from Chongqing. Its ingredients as listed:

Pork, potable water, sugar, salt, MSG, spices

Sugar is added, probably for flavour, so are the MSG and spices. Perhaps soldiers need to be stimulated more with flavours than the general public. Another reason could be that civilians use luncheon meat as an ingredient, while soldiers will regular eat it straight from the can. In that case, they will appreciate that little extra flavour.

Eurasia Consult Food knows the Chinese food industry since 1985. Follow us on Twitter.

Eurasia Consult Consulting can help you embed your business in Chinese society.

Peter Peverelli is active in and with China since 1975.

China’s two dairy giants – Yili and Mengniu – compared

China’s two dairy giants

This is a short post responding to the rapid developments in the Chinese dairy industry and its impact on the global dairy market.

The announcement by Rabobank that China’s top dairy companies, Mengniu and Yili, rank 9thand 10threspectively on their Top 20 Global Dairy companies was still fresh, when the news of Yili’s acquisition of New Zealand’s Westland caused a stir in the dairy world. I can imagine that many people in this business hardly know either of these companies. The fact that both are located in the same city, Huhhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia, will make things even more intriguing. I do not need to say much about their background, as you can find that in my earlier post: ‘Mengniu – game changer of the Chinese dairy industry’.

In this post I will give a look into the product range of these companies and how each product group contributes to the turnover of each company. These are figures of the first half of 2018.

Yili

Type %
Other 1
Soft drinks 9
Milk powder 10
Other liquid products 52
Ambrosial yoghurt 15
Satine milk 10

 

Mengniu

Type %
Other 1
Soft drinks 6
Milk powder 9
Other liquid products 58
Just Yoghurt 9
Deluxe milk 17

The first conclusion is that both tables are strikingly alike. Mengniu and Yili are still closely following one another in their competition.

These tables further show that milk powder, that has been China’s main dairy product for decades in now a minor product group, at least for the country’s leading dairy companies.

A quarter of their turnover is now derived from specialty products, the final two products in each table.

Both Yili and Mengniu are mature dairy companies operating at a global level.

Eurasia Consult Food knows the Chinese food industry since 1985. Follow us on Twitter.

Eurasia Consult Consulting can help you embed your business in Chinese society.

Peter Peverelli is active in and with China since 1975.

Sweet gold – the Chinese honey market

China’s honey consumption ranks first in the world. China is the world’s largest bee keeping, honey production and export country. China’s vast territory, rich nectar source, large population, with an increasing living standard, guarantee that the domestic honey market potential is huge. The current per capita consumption is a little over 250 gr p.a., while that for Austria is more than 1.3 kg p.a.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, China’s honey production has been increasing steadily over the years. In recent years, the domestic market share is growing. The following table lists the China’s honey exports and the proportion of domestic sales in the period 2001-2016 (units: 10,000 mt).

Year Total Output Export Proportion of Export Domestic

Consumption

Proportion of

Domestic Consumption

2001 25.2 10.7 42.4 14.5 57.5
2002 26.5 7.6 28.67 18.9 71.33
2003 29.9 8.4 28.1 21.5 71.9
2004 29.3 8.2 28.0 21.1 72.0
2005 29.32 8.8 30.0 20.5 70.0
2006 33.3 8.1 24.3 25.2 75.7
2007 35.4 6.4 18.1 29.0 81.9
2008 40.0 8.5 21.25 31.5 78.75
2009 40.2 7.2 17.91 33.0 82.09
2010 40.1 10.1 25.1 30.0 74.9
2011 43.1 9.98 23.15 33.12 76.85
2012 44.8 11.0 24.55 33.8 75.45
2013 45 12.5 27.7 33.8 75.1
2014 46.82 13 28 33.84 72.2
2015 50.5 14.48 28.6 35 69.3
2016 70 12.83 18.3 40 57.1

This table shows that, in 2001, honey production was 252,000 mt, export 107,000 mt and about 145,000 mt were for the domestic market of consumption. By 2016, the yield of honey was 700,000 mt, and 128,300 mt were exported, the volume of the domestic consumption was about 400,000 mt, which is 2.75 times of the domestic sales in 2001. If each person buys 0.5 kg honey, over 1,300,000,000 Chinese people need over 650,000 mt, so the market potential is stunning!

Top brands

China has a number of top honey brands. It is not easy to rank them in a sensible order. Most brands are specialized in a particular type of honey, e.g, Baihua’s bramble honey, or Laoshan’s locust honey. The top 5 brands according to a Chinese consumer site are:

Rank brand region
1 Wang’s Jiangxi
2 Baihua Beijing
3 Guanshengyuan Shanghai
4 M&Y Hunan
5 Laoshan Jiangsu

More and more bees

While the global bee keeping industry is worrying about the increasing number of bees, the number of swarms in China has increased steadily during the past years. The following table shows the number of swarms in the period 2006 – 2017.

Year Swarms
2006 8,400,000
2007 8,500,000
2008 8,700,000
2009 8,750,000
2010 8,800,000
2011 8,850,000
2012 8,870,000
2013 8,900,000
2014 8,950,000
2015 9,000,000
2016 9,230,000
2017 9,250,000

Exports

In spite of the negative media coverage, China still exports considerable volumes of honey. The following table shows the exports to the main destinations in 2017.

Country Value (USD) Volume (kg)
Japan 73,056,708 30,109,142
UK 54,403,933 29,664,811
Belgium 25,164,242 11,389,802
Spain 17,820,548 8,897,182
Poland 17,595,171 9,087,237
Australia 12,997,760 6,406,581
Germany 10,733,514 4,936,745
Netherlands 10,723,586 5,498,740

Imports

An unfortunate aspect of the Chinese honey industry is that its lucrative nature has also made it a popular arena for fake products. Even worse is that part of this fake or adulterated honey has made its way on the international market, seriously harming the image of honey from China.

Because of the many fake honey products in China, quite a few Chinese prefer to buy imported honey. The following table shows the import figures of the Chinese Customs regarding the 2013-2016 period.

Year Import (KG) Amount (USD)
2017 5,660,034 91,297,418
2016 6,031,955 72,771,567
2015 6,517,661 74819215
2014 5,791,684 58,629,975
2013 4,856,713 42,932,079
This honey is respectively from New Zealand (Manuka), Australia, Germany, Thailand, France, Russia, Malaysia, Chile, Italy, Portugal, Swiss, UK, Spain, Canada, Greece, Taiwan Region, Kyrgyzstan, Brazil, Denmark, Mexico, Hungary, Poland

Eurasia Consult Food knows the Chinese food industry since 1985. Follow us on Twitter.

Eurasia Consult Consulting can help you embed your business in Chinese society.

Peter Peverelli is active in and with China since 1975.