English 中文网 漫画网 爱新闻iNews 翻译论坛
当前位置: Language Tips > 每日播报

Nation's farmers cater to taste for foreign foods

[ 2012-05-15 10:48] 来源:中国日报网     字号 [] [] []  
免费订阅30天China Daily双语新闻手机报:移动用户编辑短信CD至106580009009


Patricia Kontur was surprised when the blueberry export business to China was hit by a sudden slump last year, after five years of consecutive gains.

The slump was not caused by shrinking demand but by rising competition in the mainland, said the export program director of the Wild Blueberry Association of North America, which oversees blueberry farms in Maine.

"Domestic players may not have heard of 'blueberries' just a decade ago. But now many of them can mass-produce the berries and guarantee Chinese consumers a much lower price," she said.

Imported foods, until recently a rarity in China, are becoming more common, buoyed by an increasingly affluent population and high-profile food scandals.

The US Association of Food Industries has forecast that China will become the largest consumer of imported foods, with a market of 480 billion yuan ($76 billion) by 2018.

A noticeable shift has occurred in the past five years: Chinese food companies are looking to produce cheaper versions of Western foods, squeezing the margin of foreign exporters.

For instance, the blueberries previously available in China primarily originated in North America.

But domestic production of the fruit skyrocketed, showing compound annual growth rate of 134 percent from 2007 to 2010 and hitting 5,000 tons by the end of 2010, according to a report by the Chilean Fresh Fruit Exporters Association.

More than 10 blueberry companies, registered in the past five years, have set up operations in China's northeast provinces, where soil requirements and climate conditions are perfect for growing such fruit, data from the Blueberry Research Institute of Dalian University show.

The Chinese fruit is a lot cheaper, too. Dalian Blue Health Agriculture Development Co sells wholesale fresh wild blueberries for 30 yuan per kilogram, less than half the price of imported US fruit.

On other fronts, Chinese consumers' growing appetite for cheese has offered another avenue for innovative local businessmen.

US dairy exporters have started to feel the pinch in the past two years when they witnessed diversified flavors of cheese products being introduced by local players.

"We definitely see this trend, that Chinese dairy producers like Bright Food (from Shanghai) and Sanyuan (from Beijing) are upgrading their formulas to include chocolate- and cherry-flavored cheese," said Jiang Yan, vice-president of PR Consultants, which represents the US Dairy Export Council in China.

In the US, cheese is supposed to be salty, Jiang noted. As this association tries to educate the market about how American cheese preserves the most nutrients, she admitted that domestic counterparts have edged ahead by catering to local tastes.

The Chinese demand for imported US food reached $22 billion in 2011. It not only jumped 10-fold in volume in the past 15 years, the market has also "moved up the value chain," said Keith Schneller, agriculture director of the US Agricultural Trade Office in Shanghai.

"In the past, US exports to China were primarily for re-processing and re-exporting to other advanced economies like Japan and South Korea, but only in these five years (have we seen) the 'in China for China' trend, and it applies across sectors including dairy, seafood and berries," he said.

(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Nation's farmers cater to taste for foreign foods

About the broadcaster:

Nation's farmers cater to taste for foreign foods

Nelly Min is an editor at China Daily with more than 10 years of experience as a newspaper editor and photographer. She has worked at major newspapers in the U.S., including the Los Angeles Times and the Detroit Free Press. She is also fluent in Korean.