Getting More Canadian Food onto the Chinese Retail Shelf

Chinese retailers want to stock more Canadian foods, but Canadian exporters are being largely out-flanked by competitors in getting space on supermarket shelves and exposure on China’s e-commerce sites, concludes a report released by the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute (CAPI).

The report is based on CAPI’s networking trip to China last November that introduced Canadian companies and organizations to selected retailers in Beijing and Shanghai. Based on first-hand exposure to some leading Chinese retailers, CAPI’s report proposes several strategies in order to further Canada’s presence in the international market:

  • Canadian food companies not already exporting to China should initially target “one grocery retailer in one Chinese city” to gain entry into this vast marketplace.
  • Canada needs to leverage its brand and develop a “Canada Online Food Festival” in order to give Canadian companies the advantage of promoting their products to Chinese consumers and level the playing field with other exporting countries in the growing e-commerce market.
  • More needs to be done by trade associations and governments to clarify the export/import process, and facilitate regulatory approvals in China, particularly for new or niche food exporters.
  • A new government-business dialogue is required to evolve Canada’s China strategy in order to double Canada’s value-added agri-food exports; differentiate Canadian foods, beverages and ingredients from our competitors; and respond to the changing trade access being achieved by others.

After tainted food scandals in China, grocers wish to satisfy ever-rising consumer expectations that food is safe and sourced from or produced in a clean environment, attributes that Canada’s brand can leverage in seeking greater prominence among retailers.

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