At CIIE, multinationals experience strength of Chinese market

Ding Yining
Exhibits from foreign countries have found their way into consumers' everyday lives through the import expo and also help promote local manufacturing and research capabilities.
Ding Yining

The China International Import Expo has infused confidence into multinational companies as many of them plan to further increase investment in the increasingly attractive Chinese market.

Exhibits from foreign countries have found their way into consumers' everyday lives through the CIIE and also help promote local manufacturing and research capabilities.

Unilever, which has confirmed its presence for next year's expo, said it expects more diversified offerings will be presented to cater to evolving home-care and personal-hygiene needs.

"We stand ready to shoulder the responsibility of driving domestic consumption," said Unilever North Asia Vice President Zeng Xiwen.

Home-hygiene brand Domestos and personal-care brand Love Beauty and Planet are both overseas brands present at this year's CIIE. Unilever has moved their production inside China amid rising domestic demands.

"We also regard the expo a platform to bring local technologies and products to overseas markets," he added.  

Its seasoning brand Knorr has adapted to the home-cooking trend and in the first half of this year launched Chinese-style cooking sauces which are warmly welcomed via online fresh food delivery sites.

At this expo, it also received tentative requests from distributors regarding personal-care and hygiene products.

About 10 new brands have been introduced to China after testing the water through previous editions of the CIIE. 

Danone, which presented nearly 200 products such as new probiotics nutritional supplements, plant-based protein shakes and foods for special medical purposes, also pledged to return for a fourth time.

"We believe we have a role to play to contribute to a healthy and beautiful China and we believe our synergies in the global market and local insights will help us better serve China and global consumers," according to Bruno Chevot, senior vice president for China & Oceania at Danone Early Life Nutrition.

Since the last expo, some 40 exhibits from Danone have entered the retail market.

Wyeth Nutrition unveiled its China headquarters in Shanghai at the expo to expand functions like nutritional research, talent training, cross-border e-commerce trade, customer and logistics. 

Having been present at the CIIE for the third time, the upgraded headquarters in Shanghai is the latest testament to the company's adamant position to better connect with the booming local infant and nutrition food market, according to Zhang Suyi, president of Wyeth Nutrition China.

"We are pleased to see that reform, development and innovation have become the key words for China's economic and social development in the next stage, and the inclusion of enhancing the health-care system as a major task in the 14th Five-Year Plan is a driving force for our future development as a multinational health-care company," said Johnson & Johnson Global Senior Vice President and China Chairman Will Song.

The company pledged to accelerate local research and development efforts and combine resources from various stakeholders to help sustain high-quality development of the health-care industry. 

J&J's vision-care unit has tied up with local eyeware and vision-care chain operator Nova Vision to use AI to better diagnose and detect eye diseases.

Novo Nordisk which signed a framework agreement of a 200-million-yuan (US$29 million) investment with China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone Lingang Special Area Administration over the weekend also confirmed its attendance next year.

"China's continuous efforts to improve the business environment, promote the growth of an innovation ecosystem and create a stable, predictable policy environment make us confident in the future of the Chinese market," said Christine Zhou, Novo Nordisk's senior vice president and China president.

"We will leverage this opportunity to allow our business to be deeply rooted in the Chinese market and work toward our commitment to changing diabetes and other chronic diseases in China," she noted. 

The newly registered company set up in Shanghai by the Denmark-headquartered diabetes treatment provider will carry out pharma research and development, drug import and distribution, and marketing and promotion.

New facilities shown at the expo will also be deployed at physical stores.

For first-time apparel maker Uniqlo, it intends to maintain its store-opening plan with 80 to 100 new outlets each year for the next few years in China, according to Jalin Wu, senior vice president of Fast Retailing Global Group and chief marketing officer of UNIQLO China.

The apparel retailer now has nearly 800 stores on the Chinese mainland.

This year's CIIE is the first time Uniqlo's "Life Wear" exhibition came to Shanghai after similar exhibitions were staged in New York and Paris.

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