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The Chinese choose bio made in Italy

Nomisma analysis reveals consumption and trends in China

17% of the Chinese indicate "Italy" when they think about a country producing food & beverage excellence

With a value of 8 billion euros, China represents the fourth market in the world for consumption of organic products, 8% of the total global sales of organic products. Although it still represents a niche market (in China about 1.2% of food spending was organic in 2019), the organic trend has been growing strongly since 2013 (+ 233% sales up to 2018). Covid-19 represented a factor in accelerating the consumer for well-being, attention to health and the role of food for its protection, factors that have given an important driving effect for organic products. These are some of the data discussed today in the "Focus China" presented on the occasion of the second online webinar of the Ita.Bio project. The platform, promoted by Ice and Federbio and curated by Nomisma, aims to provide data, information and services to support the internationalization of organic Made in Italy.

In China there are 3 million hectares cultivated according to the organic method, growing by + 188% in just 8 years, although they still represent only 0.6% of the total agricultural area. However, the interest in organic is still very concentrated in the high-tier cities and in the upper class, so much so that the overall incidence of organic on the total shopping cart is 1.2% in 2019 (it was only 0.7% in the 2014) and the per capita expenditure for organic products does not exceed 5.5 euros per person (in the United States it is 125 euros and in Italy 58 euros).

The data from the Nomisma consumer survey found that 64% of respondents bought an organic food or drink product during 2020. But the consumption of organic products in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou is mostly related to the upper class: among the Chinese with incomes above 16,000 RMB the share of user bio rises to 76%, to 74% among those with a high degree (degree or Phd) or to 68% among self-employed workers, entrepreneurs or freelancers. The identikit of the organic consumer can be traced back to a millennial with children, used to online purchases (in fact, in these three targets, the percentages of organic consumers are higher than the average, respectively 66%, 67% and 70%).

Food safety (expressed by 28% of organic users), superior quality (a further 24% mainly find this type of guarantee) and attention to the environment (23% overall) are the main reasons for Chinese consumers to choose Organic products. During 2020, 3% (almost 500,000 Chinese) started buying bio for the first time while 47% of those who were already users increased their spending. 29% of bio users believe it is important that the packaging is eco-friendly or that the product has been made respecting the environment (lower Co 2 emissions, zero waste, use of renewable energy, etc.). The second criterion for choosing organic products is origin (22% overall pay attention to this aspect when shopping for organic products), preferably from foreign countries whose quality is appreciated (12%).

Italy is in first place among the countries that produce the highest quality products according to the Chinese consumer, both in relation to food products in general (17% indicates "Italy" when they think of a producer country of food & beverage excellence) and for those organic brand (18%). 19% of Chinese consumers declare that they have purchased made in Italy food or beverages under the organic brand at least once in the last year. This propensity to buy doubles among those who have had a visit experience in the Bel Paese: among tourists who have been in Italy in recent years, the share of bio-users reaches 28%. The interest in organic made in Italy is stronger among those who have a greater propensity to shop online (in this target, 26% buy our Organic F&B), among the youngest (24% of Millennials are users) and in upper class (22% among households with incomes above RMB 16,000). The most promising products for organic made in Italy are: dairy products (primarily milk for children), baby food, but also meat and derivatives along with pasta and baked goods. These are the categories for which Chinese consumers look for the guarantees of organic and those on which the Italian spirit is an added value.

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EFA News - European Food Agency
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