Monday, January 24, 2011
Philippine Agriculture Urged to Tap Chinese Middle-Class Market
The Philippine agriculture industry is urged to capitalize on China’s growing middle-class market, with its rising disposable income and more affluent lifestyles which include an increasing demand for imported foods.
Philippine Ambassador to China, Franciso L. Benedicto believe now is the "ripe time" for stakeholders in the country's agricultural exports to penetrate the Chinese market as studies show that in the next few years, China is projected to be the world's biggest importer of agriculture and agri-food products.
"With a huge potential market of about 1.3 billion people and escalating economic influence, China could become an exporter's paradise for those who know how to navigate the Chinese marketplace," Benedicto said in a statement.
According to the Benedicto, due to China's geographical size and vast population, the country has a highly segmented market where consumers and their purchasing habit differ across regions and provinces. "This could definitely work to an exporter's benefit," he said.
Benedicto noted that a growing number of the Chinese population is becoming more aware of the benefits of a healthy diet, thus, health, organics and natural food products are rising in popularity.
The younger generation and the upwardly mobile in China, he said, is now carving a niche for ready-to-eat gourmet food.
Benedicto cited Filipino delicacies such as crab paste and laing (taro leaves cooked in coconut milk) used as spread or toppings for biscuits, bread and pasta as stirring the Chinese palate.
In addition, banana chips and polvoron (shortbread cookies), mango, calamansi, coconut juices, purees and concentrates are also fast becoming popular in China.
He said the biggest buyers of banana chips are from Hong Kong, which distributes the snack food in attractive packages to thousands of outlets in mainland China.
The Chinese upper market is also showing greater interest in olive oil, soya and mushroom coffee, arrowroot cookies and instant ginger tea, and even Philippine products like malunggay noodles and powder.
There are also bright prospects for Philippine farm and fishery exports including tuna, shrimps, prawns, octopus and lobsters; fresh and chilled vegetables such as asparagus and okra; fresh guavas, bananas, papayas; and coconut products like virgin coconut oil, coco vinegar, dessicated coconut and fresh and young coconuts.
Benedicto said that to ensure that Philippine agricultural and agri-food products gain a foothold in China, "due diligence by our exporters is essential."
He urged, "Potential exporters must carefully examine the viability and marketability of their products before exporting their goods to China.”
Local producers are likewise told to pay closer attention to product presentation as Chinese buyers note a strong need to greatly improve the packaging of food products, particularly snack biscuits, calamansi juice and banana chips sold in retail.
By Manila Bulletin
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