China/EU cooperation highlighted during food exhibition

Ding Yining
Industry officials, trade delegates and government agencies pledged further support for new food & beverage and retail formats during the 22nd SIAL China, which ends on Thursday.
Ding Yining

Industry officials, trade delegates and government agencies pledged further support and displayed upbeat sentiment for new food and beverage as well as retail formats during the 22nd SIAL China, one of the country's top food exhibitions. 

The exhibition jointly hosted by the China Commerce Development Center and the Comexposium Group wraps up on Thursday at the New International Expo Center. It has featured more than 4,500 exhibitors from 33 countries and regions and attracted about 120,000 visitors. 

Mustard and seaweed flavored ice cream, oatmeal ice cream, manuka honey milk chips and lactoferrin sparkling water are among the most eye-catching and innovative food and drink items offered at the fair. 

Nicolas Trentesaux, chief executive officer of the SIAL Global Network, pointed to an increase of health and wellness food, ready-to-cook and ready-to-heat products that gained attention from venture capital firms. 

Food and beverage distribution models are changing faster than ever, and buyers, distributors and trade groups are eager to innovate in their home markets and across borders, he noted. 

The European Union is the guest region of honor at this year’s exhibition, and food and beverages from EU countries have been showcased under the "Colours by Europe" theme. 

Last year, EU agri-food exports to China jumped 22 percent from a year earlier to a record 17.7 billion euros, buoyed by strong demand for pork and infant formula, according to Damien Plan, the EU Delegation to China’s Counsellor for Agriculture. 

With the new EU-China bilateral agreement protecting geographical indications that took effect on March 1, Plan expects wine, spirits and cheese to benefit from the new partnership.  

The majority of Chinese products included in the geographical indication program are tea, fruit and vegetables.

A second group of 175 Chinese and 175 EU brands will be added to the agreement by 2025. "We believe we’re moving in the right direction," he noted.  

The EU delegation is raising awareness of the new program and the geographical indications logo at various promotional events like food fairs.

"Chinese consumers' willingness to pay for quality food and embrace of sustainable food is beneficial for the food and beverage industry in the EU," Plan added.

Shanghai Restaurant Cuisine Association Director Shen Siming also noted that caterers are moving more quickly to sell packaged meal or half-cooked meal through online sales channels and to tie up with packaged food vendors to cater market trends.

Chen Xiangrong, deputy director of the Shanghai Administration for Market Regulation's food production department, said Shanghai aims to build a transparent and consistent business environment to support the launch of new food and beverage categories. 

Gao Fang, an official with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs' agricultural product quality and safety center, emphasized the importance of brand building for agri-food due to the variety of products currently available. 

"It's essential to build iconic brand images that are suitable for agri-food, as China seeks to boost the development of high-quality specialty agricultural products," she said. 

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