China imports a lot of food from Britain every year. According to Chinese customs data, China imported more than $446 million worth of food from the UK in 2018; Among all of these imports, whisky accounted for the largest proportion of imported value, amounting to $151 million. The most imported British whisky for China is produced mainly in Scotland. To find out why British foods like Scotch whisky are so popular in China, Food2China invited Pasco Cheng, Food and Drink Specialist (HK & South China) of Scottish Development International, and Yvette Wong, Assistant Food and Drink Specialist (HK & South China) of Scottish Development International, for an interview.
Scotch whisky has a history of 500 years and is one of the best whisky in the world. Scotch whisky has become a trademark of Scotland. According to Pasco Cheng, Scotland is the largest whisky producing and exporting region in the world, and China's largest imports of Scotch food are also whisky. Scotch whisky is aged in oak barrels for at least three years. Some oak barrels used for aging have previously been used to make crusted Sherry or bourbon, which also brings a unique flavor to Scotch whisky. In addition, Scotch whisky cannot be added with additives other than water and wheat, which is one of the reasons why Scotch whisky is so fascinating.
Besides, the British also are proud of their salmon. Among them, the reputation of the Scottish salmon is widespread. Scottish salmon has been Scotland's largest export category among non-alcohol food since 2014. China imports a large number of salmon from Scotland every year, second only to whisky, according to Pasco. There are several main reasons for the popularity of Scottish salmon. First of all, the water temperature of farmed salmon in Scotland is between 5 °C and 10 °C, which is particularly suitable for salmon. In addition, Scottish salmons are not farmed in large-scale and will not be fed with chemically added feed. Moreover, Scotland has a lower stocking density compared to other countries so the salmon can have a large space for growth and swimming. Thus, the salmons are less prone to illness, and less prone to mutual infection. Therefore, the Scottish salmon taste delicious, not too greasy, and is loved by many chefs.
Speaking of other British cuisines, Pasco said Scottish meat products, such as beef and lamb, are also of high quality. However, due to policy restrictions, the mainland China has not yet opened the import of Scottish beef and lamb. To get a better understanding of Scottish meat, Pasco and Yvette introduced us to communicate with Tom Gibson, head of market development of Quality Meat Scotland. Tom told us, Scotland has high-quality Angus cattle, which is not only rich in nutrition and taste excellent, but also is a good steak material. In addition, the Scottish cattle are pastured, and each cattle is raised on fresh high-quality grass and slaughtered in a traditional way, which can greatly retain the unique flavor of the beef.
In addition, Scottish biscuits, candy and Gin are also popular with many customers. A company introduced by Pasco and Yvette told us that they were now selling a kind of Gin mixed with a variety of materials. Its producer has spent two years developing the formula, with the addition of the distinctive Chinese ingredient bergamot fruit, which gave out a fascinating flavor in the wine after being refined. During the interview with other Scottish companies, FOOD2CHINA learned that healthy foods were now very popular in Europe today; for example, there was a kind of potato chip added with broccoli. The combination of a strong broccoli aroma and crisp taste of potato chips made people feel the freshness of vegetables, rich in fiber, and healthier.
In the interview, we were impressed by the extreme pursuit of natural and healthy foods of British food companies. Similarly, during the Sial China, FOOD2CHINA reporter also interviewed Li Jian, chief operation officer of Jacuda Shanghai, who also said that British food was green and healthy and favored by many consumers.
Jacuda Shanghai is a British-owned trading company in China, which mainly introduces a variety of high-quality food from all over the world to China. According to him, potato chips now on the market in China are generally mashed and mixed with flour, then molded by machines and then baked for packaging. However, they are selling potato chips from two British companies Real Handcook and Burts, which are baked directly with sliced potato. In addition, chips are semi-mechanical and semi-artificial produced, and the seasoning is artificially controlled. Although the shape is not uniform, it is more natural and healthier, and is very popular in Europe, mainly sold to middle and high-end consumers, such as bars, restaurants, Starbucks and so on. In addition, they also sell British Nairns biscuits, the only pure oat biscuits in the Chinese market. This cookie is high in fiber and tastes better than ordinary oatmeal cookies, nutritious and healthy, in line with the health needs of consumers, accounting for 80% of the market share in the field of healthy cookies.
Nature and health have become the two major features of British food, thus British food are loved by many consumers. In the future, it is hoped that the UK will be able to export more food to China, so that more Chinese consumers can enjoy the high-quality British food.