China’s food sector is currently one of the country’s fastest growing sectors with the development being strengthened by continuous growth in GDP as well as increased income levels and buying power among consumers. China’s imports of food have shown strong growth in recent years, and the United States is currently the largest food exporter to China. Among the EU countries France is the largest food exporter as wine constitutes a substantial part of exports. In addition to wine, there is still substantial potential to be found by food exporters in a number of subsectors, especially due to the rapidly growing middle class whose consumption patterns are shifting towards food items of higher value such as more meat, dairy products, pasta, olive oil, confectionery and infant formula.
In addition there is an increasing demands for food of high quality and safety levels. China is frequently hit by food scandals, the melamine crisis of 2008 being the most notable example. The effect of food hygiene scares has in turn been felt across the industry and the food sub-sectors continue to be exposed to demand fluctuations as consumer confidence remains vulnerable. In light of this, Chinese consumer are increasingly interested in organic food even though this must still to be considered a niche market. Official Chinese sources do, however, predict that the country will become the world’s 3rd largest consumer of organic food by 2020, and in this perspective the market still poses substantial long-term potential to organic food producers in spite of its current, immature growth stage.