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Italian Agrifood in China
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Italian Agrifood in China
Post Time:2019-07-22Author:F2C-CAINI

The food industry offers to consumers competitive products which are secured in terms of safety, taste and quality. The Italian foods meet the increasing demand on the market and experiment new technology while respecting the tradition. Nowadays Food security is the most important aspect for Chinese decision markers. They observe very closely the Italian food industry for its consolidated ability to market products appreciated worldwide that meet the most rigorous control systems.

In China, the presence of Italian companies that produce food goods is very limited. However there are important market operations in several sections, such as confectionery (Ferrero, Perfetti Van Melle), corned meat and vegetables (Senfter, Beretta). A very good cooperation is already established at government, R&D institutions and companies level. Nevertheless, there is a great potential which needs to be discovered.

The Italian industry has to focus more on the opportunities offered on this market. On the other hand, China is required to switch the development model based on quantity to a model based on quality in which the agricultural sector would focus more on the product quality and Nutritional values.

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Challenges and Opportunities of “market of the world”

Lately in China is taking place a revoluton in the food consumption: several products that do not belong to the country food tradition have already be included in the eating habits of millions of Chinese.

To put in the perspective it is enough to consider the high consumption of Italian coffee, beer, wine, milk, pasta, pizza and even mineral water. Besides, the Chinese market is today one of the most important for the imported wine consumption (the fifth in the world).

The definition “market of the world” is appropriate in the case of China. Several hundred Italian companies of the agrifood sector and almost 600 wineries work steadily with local partners. By the time, products that belong to Western eating habits and Mediteranean diet make their way into the Chinese market , both with large multinational companies local production; both with niche imported products targeted the most well-off population.

In the food industry very interesting flows are recorded in the sector of chocolate, bakery products, canned food, pasta, oil and vinegar. Regarding the wine, it should be noted the delay in the market penetration compared to France, Spanish and Austrialian wines. This growth is favored by the consumption compression of wines priced over the top (France) and by a steadily increase interest of Chinese consumers towards Italian food and wine.

The Italian presence growth is linked to the overcoming of structural limitations (e.i. dwarfism of Italian companies). These structual limitations could be overcome by the creation of business aggregations and distribution platforms in China; and especially by a greater projectuality in the action taking to enter and establish the Italian companies in the market.

A large import of Italian products is hampered by a number of protectionist measures which prevent the entering of processed meat, flour and other products.

Moreover, the phenomenon of Italian sounding products has began to emerge also in China: several foreign products, (such as cheese, pasta, olive oil, canned food, cookies, etc. that come also from other European countries) reach the market along with some Chinese products that are presented to Chinese consumers under the Italian flag on their packs.

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The strategy of “Made in Italy”

Italian companies in this sector, as well as in other sectors, have to abandon the old business model based on seller/buyer relations, and switch to a model that develop a good relationship with the Chinese importer in order to improve the market strategies, targets and resources.

The weakness in the retail sector and the lack of major Italian operators in this field is the Achilles heel for the "Made in Italy". However, big changes are ongoing in the Chinese eating habits, which now included products such as pizza, pasta, icecream, espresso, tiramisu, etc.

In addition to traditional consumption centers like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, the so-called second tier cities are making their way in the market. Having millions of inhabitants, those cities will soon be the beating heart of China’s future.

In the past the entrance chances on the market were limited. Today, a successful strategy can be the one that starts from a provincial market and conquere more space in broader territories. Cities such as Chongqinq, Shenzhen, Dalian, Qingdao, Hangzhou, Suzhou can be starting points from where launch the business action in China and converted the consumption to the Made in Italy.

The Italian products, that belong to the Mediterranean culture, are largely unknown also among those population ranges that are more culturally open. Therefore a massive information campaign should be conducted in order to share the information about intrinsic quality of Italian products.

To better grasp opportunities offered by this market it is needed to start a systematic action designed to train professionals (sommeliers, chefs, culinary experts, journalists / bloggers, caterers, F & B managers) and deisgned to created B2C events for the high-level class of population.

Several promotional actions have been undertaken in the country, such as the trade exhibition participation (FHC, Topwine, World of Food Beijing), missions in trade exhibition in Italy (CIBUS), and the Export South Project. Nevertheless the big size of the country required greater resourses and a big focus on Italian companies on the chinese market.

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