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Imports gain importance (2)

By Wang Zhuoqiong and Tang Zhihao  (China Daily)

17:12, January 17, 2013

Between 2009 and 2012, the sales of imported milk increased to 68,000 boxes from 3,400 boxes per month, reaching an annual growth rate of 2,000 percent, Spittau said.

Imported products account for 20 percent of all the products on sale at eight of Walmart's Sam's Club membership stores in China.

In the past two years, there was an increase in the sales of imported food, particularly of wine and other types of alcoholic beverages, fruit, milk powder, cookies, nuts, chocolates and milk, said Jiang Wei of the corporate affairs department at Walmart China Investment Co Ltd.

At a store in Shenzhen - one of the company's most successful units - imported wine and alcohol products are often among the best sellers, Jiang said. The store once sold more than 500 bottles of Hennessy XO cognac in a single day.

She said the perceived safety and quality guarantees of imported food attract Chinese customers.

The growing Chinese economy and the residents' increasing purchasing power are among the causes of the increasing consumption of Western food products, said Antony Strianese, director of brand development, innovation and marketing in Asia, Africa and Australia for the Italian pasta maker Barilla, which has been operating in China for more than 20 years.

Strianese said the Internet and modern shipping enable Chinese people to explore new countries and cultures and have also provided access to foreign cuisines.

Barilla's research showed that there is increasing demand for Italian food in major Chinese cities. So far, the company's priority is to teach Chinese people how to properly cook and eat pasta, he said.

"Chinese people love pasta, but they are not familiar with how to cook it. When they understand how simple it is, they instantly fall in love with it," said Strianese.

He said the company has recently launched a range of high-end biscuits and cookies, all made in Italy, which have all sold well.

"This is a sign not only of the Chinese consumers' demand for imported food products, but also of their level of maturity and understanding of high-quality products," he said.

Web shoppers are also interested in imported food.

Guo Dongdong, vice-president of the food and beverage department of, the e-commerce unit of Walmart in China, said the company's sales of imported food increased fivefold from 2011 to 2012.

The figures from Yihaodian show that imported long-life milk is among the most popular products.

Guo said that 3.5 containers of such milk are sold daily at Yihaodian. The company used to sell 3 containers of the product a month.

【1】 【2】

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