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The international scramble for China’s massive online beef market

You searched for ‘beef.’ Did you mean ‘beer?’” That was the suggestion the Costco Online website helpfully offered when we tapped in “beef” in the search bar. In total, we only hit on 11 items: six Kobe beef products, one vegan meat substitute, three dog foods, and an emergency food kit. For the Kobe beef, prices ranged from C$329 for 10 steaks to C$89.99 for 48 Kobe Classic Beef Mini Burgers. Deliveries are promised within five days.

Does it matter to Canadian beef producers that a major online seller in Canada has only six specialty unprocessed beef products that are going to be delivered next week? Probably not. The danger is that we assume that our key global markets work that way. Three hundred million Chinese have begun to shop online, ushering in a commercial era where speed and price dominate everything. In this new “lazy person’s economy,” consumers can reasonably expect to order it in the morning and get it in the afternoon. “Tmall supermarket,” an online food seller and part of the Tmall online platform owned by Alibaba, has been growing at 300 per cent per year. In 2015, the platform did 10 billion yuan (C$1.9 billion) in sales and expects to do 100 billion in 2017. “ supermarket” ( not only expects to reach 100 billion in sales, it wants to help at least 10 brands do over 10 billion yuan (C$1.9 billion) in sales and to help another 100 brands do over 100 million (C$19 million). Our competitors are already selling significant amounts of country-branded beef on these e-commerce platforms in China. And this article is only talking about China; the online opportunities are truly global in scope.

So let’s speculate about the potential size of China’s online retail market for beef. Beef is marketed in China as a nutritious high-protein, low-fat and low-cholesterol food. In 2016, Chinese consumed 5.9 million tons of beef and veal (Euromonitor numbers; some Chinese statistics put this number over seven million tons), a 24 per cent increase over the past five years. Consumption of retail beef was less, 1.9 million tons in 2016, but that number too represented an astronomical 24 per cent increase over the past five years. Let’s imagine that retail beef consumption continues to grow yearly at five per cent (as it did in 2016) until 2020, giving us consumption of about 2.4 million tons of store-sold beef. By 2020, online sales will likely account for 20 per cent of retail sales according to some projections. If online sales of fresh food continue apace with everything else, Chinese will be buying almost 500,000 tons of beef online in only a few years’ time. If on average a frozen kilogram of Canadian meat exported to China last year was $7.50, we are talking about a potential export market of almost four billion dollars.

So how does it all work? At the present, there are three main established channels on the Internet to market quality Canadian beef to Chinese consumers. “Comprehensive” business-to-customer platforms like and allow businesses to deal directly with customers; they use third-party logistics companies for shipping. Next, online wholesale companies like import overseas products and then sell to distributors. Companies like and employ a “vertical” model and focus on fresh and frozen foods. These companies have their own distribution networks. Chinese consumers want access to high-quality beef imported directly from local production regions. Taken together, the three platforms are giving consumers the choice they demand.

It is no surprise that competition for this wave of savvy, internationally oriented Chinese consumers has picked up. How is Canada doing? The authors of this article chose to investigate beef sales on, the largest business-to-customer e-commerce platform. Inputting “country name” and “beef,” we found the following monthly country-specific sales figures for May 2017. The numbers are not encouraging.

The Canadian government has taken this challenge very seriously. In November 2014, Stephen Harper met with Jack Ma, owner of Alibaba and parent company of Tmall in China. Harper’s visit, perfectly timed for November 11, China’s “Double Eleven” deep discount day, helped sell 90,000 Nova Scotia lobsters in one day. On June 11, 2015, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada signed a memorandum with to establish a Canada pavilion on the site. In September 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Alibaba’s Xixi campus, met with Ma amidst great media fanfare, and announced the establishment of a Canadian pavilion on the Tmall website. The AAFC and the commercial section at the China mission are already dedicating staff to e-commerce markets for Canadian food products. But it would be a grave mistake to wait for our government to establish virtual Canadian pavilions on well-established e-commerce platforms so we can add our beef products to maple syrup, ice wine, and frozen lobster offerings already there. Instead, firms have to actively anticipate where the online beef market is going.

So how do we move ourselves up the rankings? First of all, when Canadians sell their products into the Chinese market, they must remember that online supermarkets like and have already begun to displace and radically alter the way their brick-and-mortar counterparts do business. Prices at online supermarkets are more transparent than in their offline counterparts. Online brand loyalty for quality food products is high. Online supermarket customers are now exploring augmented reality features, visiting kiosks, writing on experience walls, and interacting with each other. Social showrooming is supplementing the offline supermarket experience with online activities and social media campaigns. Future beef brands that somehow exploit, say, health claims about iron, the pristine natural environment, or the specific tastes of the female demographic, will have to engage online supermarket consumers too. Just because online sales are somewhere between 10 and 20 per cent does not mean we only need to spend 10 per cent of our energy on online strategy.

Canadian firms selling beef will have to develop robust online relationships with young, discerning Chinese consumers via micro-blogging site Weibo, instant messaging app Wechat and other social media. Firms must learn to develop rich, original content about their products. In other words, they must gather, create, refine and disseminate information about nutrition, traceability and production conditions, then create events and activities where customers will interact with what they see.

Firms are going to find it is hard to do it all on their own. Effective firms will partner with social media platforms, engage thought leaders, and participate in virtual marketing campaigns like the country pavilion. In this information-rich environment, the Canada brand and the maple leaf symbol do not provide the kick they once did. Uruguay’s traceability system, Australia’s “grass-fed sustainability,” or even the Brazilian “bauru” sandwich all provide consumers with competing narratives that have to be countered with careful, thoughtful online brand development activities.

Meanwhile, Chinese consumers now buy beef products direct from overseas producer regions: information technology and improved logistical infrastructure have drastically reduced middleman segments of the supply chain. So “Farm–Cross-border e-commerce platform–consumer” transactions are now a reality through “Tmall International” and “ Global.” These direct-to-consumer platforms may inspire us to look at our competitors and wonder “Who is getting online in China first?” “Whose government has managed to reduce the most Chinese red tape?” This would be a dangerous way to measure our success. The Chinese author of this article, director of an e-commerce research centre in a Chinese university, has provided training to Chinese farmers about how to directly market their agricultural products online to urban consumers. Chinese consumers increasingly expect to be able to deal directly with agriculture-producing regions, both domestic and international. We have to meet the expectations of Chinese consumers or someone else will.

“If you miss out on China, if you miss out on developing countries in Asia, if you miss out on e-commerce, you are missing out on the future.” That is what Jack Ma, executive chairman of the Alibaba Group, told 3,000 owners of small- and medium-sized business owners in the U.S. in June 2017. Ma went on to provide some statistics that stunned his audience. Each year, China consumes 600 million pigs and seven billion chickens. An online platform can sell 90,000 Canadian lobsters in a single day. And he added, “Those lobsters can be delivered from Canada to Chinese homes in 72 hours.”

Access to e-commerce markets in China may not be the only thing that the Canadian beef industry has to worry about. But the future of the world’s largest online market for food is certainly worth some thought.

Source: Canadian Cattlemen. Date: 2017-08-22

US seeks WTO dispute panel on China's grain import quotas

The United States has requested a World Trade Organization panel be set up to investigate Chinese tariff-rate quotas (TRQ) for agricultural products, the WTO said on Monday, setting up a showdown between the two largest economies.

The row, which includes tariffs for wheat, rice, and corn, was initiated under the Obama administration which sought consultations on Dec. 15, but now the Trump administration has moved ahead with a formal request.

The item appears on the formal agenda of the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) meeting set for Aug. 31, issued on Monday. China can block this first formal request, but upon a second request at a later DSB, the panel will be set up unless all WTO members agree to block it.

In December, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) said that China's administration of the programme breached its WTO commitments and hurt U.S. farm exports.

The USTR said global prices for the three commodities were lower than China's domestic prices, yet the country did not maximize its use of TRQs, which offer lower duties on a certain volume of imported grains every year. The USTR said that limited market access for shipments from the United States, the world's largest grain exporter, and other countries.

Since then, Australia, the European Union, Canada and Thailand have joined the dispute as third parties.

The United States said that China had failed to administer its tariff rate quotas on a "transparent", predictable", or "fair" basis.

Last Friday, USTR announced it was launching an investigation into China's alleged theft of U.S. intellectual property - the administration's first direct measure against Chinese trade practices - which Beijing on Monday rejected as "irresponsible". 

Source: ABS CBN News. Date: 2017-08-22


Across China: Young urbanites enticed by customized farm produce

In spring, Li Mingtong, a university student in Changchun, capital of the northeast China's Jilin Province, paid 500 yuan (75 U.S. dollars) to have a pomegranate tree organically cultivated. In fall, she received boxes containing the fruit from her tree, located thousands of kilometers away in southwest China's Yunnan Province.

"Though the pomegranates were very expensive, they are safe and taste good," she said. Li organized the customized service through an online shop earlier this year. She now plans to buy customized vegetables grown in the suburbs of Changchun.

As Chinese pay more attention to food safety, customized farm produce, grown without using pesticides or fertilizers, is attracting growing interest from well-off urban consumers, especially the young.

The Internet is assisting supply-side reform in agriculture. Customers can rent a piece of land online and choose which varieties of vegetables they want to have grown there. Many farms have cameras so that customers can monitor the growth of their produce on their mobile phones or computers.

"This not only ensures green food, but also offers an opportunity for our family to enjoy pastoral scenery during our free time," said Xu Li, another Changchun resident.

"Our fruit and vegetables are all organic. We adopted a membership model for the sale and delivery of produce to our clients," Chen Zhao, general manager of Chunjiangyan farm in Nongan County, Changchun, said at the 16th China Changchun International Agriculture and Food Fair, which closed Sunday.

The farm has 47 vegetable and fruit greenhouses and 1,000 members. Each day, more than 100 Changchun residents receive vegetables delivered from the farm, according to Chen.

"Our capacity is insufficient. For example, when our cantaloupes were ready for sale, we could only meet half the demand from our customers," he said.

The Chinese government has required deepening of supply-side structural reform in agriculture, improving of the sector's structure, promoting of green production and innovation, and extending of the sector's industrial and value chain.

According to a report released last year by Ali Research Institute affiliated to e-commerce giant Alibaba, China had 65 million "online green consumers" in 2015, 15 times as many as in 2011.

Green products include organic and additive-free food and environmentally-friendly household commodities such as furniture and clothes. Green consumption has spread most rapidly among young people aged from 23 to 28, according to the research.

"Our pigs have serial numbers. We have cameras in their pens so that our customers can check their condition at any time on their mobile phones," Pei Feng, from an agricultural cooperative in Siping, said at the Changchun agriculture fair.

The pigs are fed corn and bean pulp. The cooperative does not use any antibiotics or hormones, according to Pei, who added their services are expanding.

The green model for customized agri-products has been piloted in many other places, such as Beijing and northwestern China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

China has more than 10,000 accredited green food companies producing more than 26,000 types of products, according to statistics from the China Green Food Development Center, which oversees the country's organic food standards.

Despite the huge potential for customized produce, there are some concerns about whether the products are organic.

Technology such as cameras can record the cultivation methods to some extent, but the certification of organic products requires a large investment, said a farm worker in Jilin.

Some green farm produce does not have organic certification.

"Consumers pay high prices for customized produce to ensure safety. But the industry is still in the beginning stages. There are both good and bad producers," said Zhao Yumin, secretary-general of Jilin Specialty Products Processing Association.

It is difficult for consumers to confirm if their products are organic or not, therefore certification by professional agencies is necessary to boost reliability, said Zhao.

Liu Yuansheng with Jilin University of Finance and Economics, said the key to selling customized agri-products lucratively lies in the application of a traceability system, which is currently a weak link.

Source: Xinhua. Date: 2017-08-22

APEC seek ways to enhance agricultural technical co-operation

The APEC Agricultural Technical Cooperation Working Group held its annual meeting on the third day of the 2017 APEC Food Security Week underway in Cần Thơ, seeking ways to strengthen technical co-operation in agriculture between member economies.

The annual meetings review the previous year’s activities and discuss the working group’s priorities and the next stage work plans, according to Dr Gong Xifeng, interim lead shepherd of the ATCWG.

He underlined the importance of the meeting, saying it was a chance for ATCWG to review and reshape its orientation and co-operation mechanisms.

Trần Kim Long, director general of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s international co-operation department, said the Mekong Delta is a great example to highlight the importance of the work of APEC-ATCWG and draw up joint vision and mission of food security and sustainable agricultural development.

"The Mekong Delta has seen tremendous progress over the last few decades in providing food for our economy and income for our people. Technological progress has played a key role in the successful development of the rice sector here, and we have strongly benefited from co-operation with our partners in the region."

However, it is set to face many challenges like urbanisation, climate change and overuse of natural resources, according to Long.

The challenges are not confined to Việt Nam, but are shared by its partners in APEC.

"We should treat these challenges as opportunities to formulate a common and collaborative response," he said.

The ATCWG is composed of government officials and experts from academia.

The objective of the working group is to enhance the contribution of agriculture to the bloc’s economic growth and social well-being by promoting technical co-operation between its members.

This year ATCWG will continue to promote agricultural information sharing and co-operation with regard to farm technology, and strengthen communications and capacity building in agricultural technology.

During the APEC Food Security Week held in Cần Thơ, the working group will organise a training course on mycotoxin prevention and control in food and feed items.

Source: VNS. Date: 2017-08-21


China launches probe into Brazilian broiler chicken imports

China has launched an anti-dumping investigation into imports of Brazilian broiler chickens after a complaint from the domestic industry that the South American country has been selling its chicken below market value.

Brazil accounted for more than 50pc of broiler product supplies to China, the world's No. 2 poultry consumer, between 2013 and 2016, according to a preliminary review, the Commerce Ministry said in a statement.

Any move to penalize imports, which are worth more than $1 billion a year, would be a major blow to Brazil's meat industry following a food safety scandal that threatened to tarnish the country's powerhouse protein industry.

ABPA, a group representing Brazilian chicken producers and exporters, denied they sell products below market prices, association president Francisco Turra told Reuters on Friday.

"We are very competitive and it is hard for the Chinese producer to understand," Turra said, reflecting on the surge of imports since the Chinese market opened to Brazilian poultry in 2009. "Such complaints are normal and we can defend ourselves."

Brazil faced similar claims from South Africa and Ukraine and won the cases, he said. Brazilian government officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Shares of Brazil's BRF SA, the world's largest chicken exporter, fell 1pc on Friday as the benchmark Bovespa stock index gained 0.2pc.

A BRF representative declined to comment.

Brazil replaced the US as the top chicken supplier after China slapped anti-dumping duties on US broiler chicken products in 2010.

China is the biggest national consumer of Brazilian meat.

China relies on imports for its supply of white feather broiler chickens, which are favored by fast-food chains like KFC and McDonalds for their more rapid development and plumper meat. Yellow-feathered birds, which are native to China, are generally sold at retail.

The investigation comes just months after Beijing slapped hefty penalties on sugar imports from top growers such as Brazil and Thailand after lobbying by domestic mills.

In 2016, Brazil accounted for 85pc of China's frozen chicken imports - almost 600,000 tonnes valued at as much as $1.23 billion, according to customs data.

The push by China's domestic industry for an anti-dumping probe came as poultry farmers and processors recover from the nation's worst outbreak of bird flu in years and struggle with falling demand.

"This is good news for the domestic chicken market," said a chicken farmer in northern China who gave his surname as Tan.

"The chicken market has been not so good since the second half of last year. Brazil is selling a lot to China at a cheap price while China has ample supplies itself."

In 2017, demand and output are expected to hit their lowest since 2006, according to US government estimates. Domestic supplies are being hurt by low availability of grandparent breeder stock needed to produce more meat.

Worries about the deadly virus hurt demand for chicken meat and sent some regional prices to more than decade old lows in February.

Live broiler chicken prices in Shandong province, one of the nation's major producing areas, have since more than doubled, and were around 7.7 yuan ($1.15) on Friday, as the crisis passed and concerns about infection eased.

Import prices from Brazil have remained low in comparison, making it hard for the local industry to compete, analysts said.

Still, any curb on foreign supplies would likely boost domestic prices further, potentially denting demand for chicken as a cheap alternative to pork, the nation's favorite meat.

Broiler chicken sells for 14 yuan ($2.10) per kg, according to government data, almost one-third less than pork and more than 70pc cheaper than beef and lamb.

Source: Reuters. Date: 2017-08-21

Chinese demands are industry challenge

China will continue to be a lucrative market for Australian grain, but the local industry will have to adapt to increasingly stringent biosecurity and quality standards. 

Speaking at the Australian Grains Industry Conference (AGIC) in Melbourne recently, Erlend Ek, agricultural researcher with analysis business China Policy, said there had been a significant shift in official Chinese policy regarding food security. 

“Since 2013 there has been a move away from attempting to be self-sufficient in food production to strengthening food stability, which has implications for grain imports,” Mr Ek said. 

The key change in this space has been a winding back of domestic prices for farmers, which have been way above international parity. 

Australia has been a beneficiary of increased demand but Mr Ek warned of a tightening of import standards, particularly in regards to phytosanitary requirements. 

He pointed to levels of diseases such as ergot as potential flash points. 

There have been Chinese media reports of Australian wheat not being accepted at a Chinese port due to new regulations regarding levels of the fungal disease ergot, although there is no official confirmation from either Chinese or Australian administrators of such a case. 

Sources from the Australian grains industry strenuously deny there have been any ergot issues, but acknowledge there will be strict scrutiny on bio-security in China. 

The increased focus on quality and environmental concerns are spin-offs from China’s attempts to reposition itself in the manufacturing sector as a quality producer. 

“Quality in whatever sector is a really big thing in China at present,” Mr Ek said. 

This has led to an overhaul of more than 6000 national standards for food, including the ergot regulations. 

While there will be an increased focus on compliance, the potential rewards are huge, with Mr Ek estimating China would continue to import more than 100 million tonnes of grain per annum, in spite of increasing domestic production.

“Domestic Chinese production is expected to hit 600mt by 2020, but demand is around 700mt, so they will need to import the remainder.” 

Chinese grain imports this year are predicted to be around the 120mt mark, with soybeans the major crop brought in. 

Mr Ek said Australia had a good reputation as a high quality, safe provider of food, which was important in China where there was widespread consumer mistrust of domestically produced food. 

“There are concerns about both a lack of quality and more importantly a lack of safety, with unsustainable practices damaging water, soil and air.” 

In spite of this, he said many Chinese consumers would remain heavily conscious of price. 

“We’re moving away from a trader/supplier led demand for grain to consumers, but most people in China care more for price than quality,” Mr Ek said. 

He said the Australian industry would need to create consumer demand for branded Australian products. 

“The ability to make high quality noodles from Australian wheat has huge implications. 

“You see Chinese consumers flocking to local noodles from a particular region, they have the nostalgia for their mum’s food, you need to win them over to a new, premium experience.” 

In terms of world trade Mr Ek said China would look to influence world grain markets through schemes such as developing futures markets for product. 

“China is thinking globally on this one and they see futures as a very important tool, they feel if they can keep grain prices good then China will be good, which is a change from past policies.” 

Mr Ek said responsibility for food security was likely to be devolved to a provincial level. 

“The central government is saying ‘we will provide credit lines and you need to pay back’ to the regional administrations.”

Source: Farm Weekly. Date: 2017-08-21


Tuna export revenue increases 21 per cent in Vietnam

Tuna export turnover in Vietnam has risen 21 per cent year-on-year to hit US$271mn in the first half of 2017, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP)

According to VASEP, the tuna fillet earned most of the revenue, accounting for more than 48 per cent of total tuna exports. This was followed by canned tuna export, which was around 30 per cent, and other processed tuna of around 15 per cent.

Vietnam exports tuna to 97 countries. The US, the EU, Israel, ASEAN, Japan, Canada, China and Mexico are the major export markets for tuna, accounting for almost 88 per cent of total tuna export value in the first six months.

With the shipments of tuna having been raised to 125 per cent to Mexico, the country surpasses Canada and China to become Vietnam’s sixth largest tuna importer, said VASEP.

However, in spite of the growing export market, tuna exports are facing difficulties in terms of raw materials and import duties in some of the key markets. The VASEP has proposed to government to develop and promote purse seine fishing.

The association suggested that Vietnam should make an agreement with the EU to finalise a quota for tuna exports to the market. It further proposed to eliminate tariffs on tuna exports to Japan, as Thailand and the Philippines have already done, in order to improve the relevance of Vietnamese products in the international markets.

In February 2017, VASEP said that Vietnam is expecting to earn US$524mn from tuna export in 2017, a rise of eight per cent compared with 2016.

Source: Far Eastern Agriculture. Date: 2017-08-21


Beef plants suspended from China play the waiting game

Audits on the six Australian beef processing plants dealing with China's recent suspension over labelling issues are now complete. 

Exporters are “waiting patiently” for news on whether Chinese officials have been appeased.

It appears the concerns stem from minor operational matters easily fixed but analysts say the real issue is how long it takes to convince those on the China side that there is no risk and business as usual should be resumed.

Notwithstanding the $100 million potential cost Australia’s trade minister has put on the fall-out of the suspension, analysts point out it is just one event on a very complex current global beef trade scene.

To put it in context, Australia exports 10 per cent of its beef to China and has 31 plants accredited to supply China.

Rabobank senior analyst animal protein Angus Gidley-Baird said that equates to around a 25,000 head capacity, with the six plants involved in the suspension accounting for 6000 head.

“We don’t know how much those individual plants focus on China but there is the ability to balance this out and it should be a short term thing that is easy to resolve,” he said, during a talk at the Graham Centre Beef Forum in Wagga Wagga this month.

Indeed, international beef trade is an increasingly complex beast with people pulling levers all over the place.

Interestingly, Mr Gidley-Baird believes Chinese pork production will be something that plays a key role in the fortunes of Australian beef producers in 2017.

How so?

A two percent lift in pork production in China, a country which already has 375 million pigs, is expected this year.

“That increased pork production means China’s demand for imports will decrease,” Mr Gidley-Baird explained.

“The Canadians, Americans and Europeans sending pork to China will find they have more in their markets, keeping competitive pressure on retail prices for all proteins,” he said.

“Beef producers sending product to the likes of the US will find they have increasing pressure from pork.”

India’s cattle ban  

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court in India has just upheld a High Court decision that the government’s ban on the sale of cattle for slaughter can not be implemented.

A political and religious decision, made in accordance with the Indian president’s election platform, the ban sent shockwaves through the international beef scene given India is one of the world’s largest exporters of bovine product.

US Department of Agriculture figures show India last year exported 1.7m tonnes of bovine product, compared to Australia’s 1.4m.

The Indian Government now has three months to revise its policy.

Mr Gidley-Baird said if India stopped supplying beef to the world, it should not have a big direct impact on Australia.

“I’d argue Australian beef shouldn’t be in the same market as Indian buffalo and therefore a direct substitution is not necessarily going to occur,” he said.

“It’s a cheap commodity red meat. Vietnam is their biggest market and a lot of that finds its way to China.

“Poultry and pork might be more direct beneficiaries if India implemented the ban.”

Brazil’s affairs

Corruption scandals in Brazil have highlighted just how sensitive the world beef market is to food safety issues, according to Mr Gidley-Baird.

When global media outlets broke news about possible tainting of Brazilian beef exports in March, every country importing their product shut the market immediately.

“Brazil did a wonderful job in the couple of days that followed to explain to its customers it wasn’t a food safety issue but a corruption issue and to their credit they were able to get all their export markets opened again within a week,” Mr Gidley-Baird said.

More recently, the US has closed its market to Brazil over further food safety concerns.

That won’t have a big impact on Brazil in the sense that very little volume went to the US, Mr Gidley-Baird said.

“The bigger impact will be the fact the Brazilians were using that US access to bolster arguments for better access into the likes of Japan and Korea,” he said.

“Effectively, it gives us breathing space space in these markets.”

The other issue at play with Brazil is their changing economy, which affects the willingness of the Brazilian consumer to eat red meat.

Given 80pc of Brazil’s product is consumed at home, any shift from the local customer away from beef means larger volumes need to be sent to other markets.

Source:Queensland Country Life. Date: 2017-08-21

China's wine joins best-sellers

Two Chinese winemakers were among the world's top 10 best-selling wine brands in 2016, according to recently published data, as Britain's two biggest supermarket chains begin stocking Chinese wine.

A list compiled by UK trade publication The Drinks Business had China's Changyu as the fourth best-selling wine brand, by volume. It sold 15 million cases, which was the same volume it sold in 2015.

Beijing-based Great Wall was the 10th best-selling brand. It sold 7 million cases in 2016, down from 7.8 million in 2015. United States brand Barefoot was the best-selling product last year, selling 22.5 million cases.

Chinese wine consumption rose by 7 percent last year, and The Drinks Business estimates that, by 2020, China will have surpassed the UK to become the second-most-valuable wine market, behind the US.

Changyu and Great Wall dominate domestic consumption in China, and the companies are making inroads into the international market. Great Wall owns brands in Chile and France, while Changyu exports to several major European markets, including the UK.

This year, the UK's two leading supermarket chains, Tesco and Sainsbury's, began selling mid-range Changyu wines, starting at 7 pounds ($9) a bottle. UK wine merchant Berry Bros & Rudd has had four Changyu wines in permanent stock since 2013.

Chris Mercer, online editor for wine magazine Decanter, said the appearance of affordable Chinese wines in the UK comes as supermarkets look to import more wines from outside the eurozone.

"You are seeing the exchange rate between sterling and the euro becomes really unfavorable," Mercer said.

"Everyone has realized that China is producing a shedload of wine, and the general consensus is that the quality is getting better."

In January, Sainsbury's began stocking Changyu Noble Dragon Red Cabernet Gernischt at an introductory price of 8 pounds a bottle.

Source: China Daily. Date: 2017-08-18


Chinese, Dutch firms meet to expand cooperation on agricultrue, food

More than 200 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from China and the Netherlands gathered Tuesday for their first-ever match-making party designed to help expand bilateral cooperation in agriculture and the food industry. 

The SMEs, including about 150 Dutch and 60-plus Chinese firms from a wide range of sectors such as seed cultivation, greenhouse technology, automation technology, dairy production, aquaculture and biological control, reached agreements on 196 cooperation intentions during the gathering in this biggest European port city. 

A representative of the Dutch company Lely Group, which is world famous for its milking robot, told Xinhua that the company has been trying to export machinery to China in the last four years and the match-making event proved to be a good chance for them to further explore potential Chinese partners. 

"We are here to meet people. We know that the dairy industry is getting more and more important in China. Of course we want to play a part in this development, as a supplier of automatic systems," said the group's international business manager Marcel van Leeuwen. 

The Chinese SMEs came mainly from China's biggest agricultural provinces like Henan, Jilin and Inner Mongolia. 

A representative of a Chinese milk producer, who only gave his surname as Qu, said he wished to bring Dutch cheese-making technology to his hometown in Jilin. If possible, he would also try to raise Dutch Holstein cows there. 

"We've found a partner who showed great interest. We are still in the discussion process and will continue our talks in the afternoon. The Netherlands has world-leading cheese-making technologies and is also famous for cattle breeding and its herd management systems. I think it is worth coming here," Qu said. 

The Bank of China, the organizer of the event, also joined the match-making talks. It took the opportunity to promote its cross-border yuan financing products and offered consultation services to both Chinese and Dutch SMEs. 

A financial institution should invest to bring enterprises together and create more cooperation opportunities for them, said Wang Jian, head of the bank's SME services. 

"Only eyeing immediate income or profits is a too narrow vision. Clients' needs and benefits must be given a priority. Chinese SMEs have not yet enough ability to go international. They need a national bank to help them enter the international market and get connected with their partners in foreign countries," he told Xinhua. 

Chinese Ambassador to The Netherlands Chen Xu, Commissioner of The Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency Jeroen Nijland and Mayor of Rotterdam Ahmed Aboutaleb attended the opening ceremony of the gathering. 

It was the fourth SME match-making event initiated by the Bank of China since last year. The previous ones took place in Germany, Malaysia and France.

Source: Ministry of Agriculture China. Date: 2017-08-18


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