CIIE Helps European SMEs Explore the Chinese Market
Over the past five years, the China International Import Expo (CIIE) has provided a platform for multinationals to exhibit their flagship products and services. It also offered a chance for foreign small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to build their presence in the Chinese market. The 2022 CIIE welcomed many new faces of SMEs from Europe, which brought exotic specialties to Chinese consumers as well as opportunities for cooperation.
France is the largest producer of agricultural products in the European Union (EU), and China is the world’s largest food importer. Trade flow between the two countries in the agriculture and food sector has been on the rise over recent years. France’s trade volume of agricultural and food products with China exceeded 6.3 billion euros in 2021, ranking first among EU countries.
During this year’s CIIE, the Taste France booth brought together 10 companies and a wine-producing region, showcasing products ranging from wine and spirits to gourmet food, dairy products, baby products, and condiments. Among the exhibitors, Dauphin Pastoureau and Normandie 1905 attended the CIIE for the first time.
Dauphin Pastoureau was founded in 1499 in Périgord, one of the birthplaces of walnuts. The company came to the CIIE with its walnut oil, balsamic vinegar and walnut sauce. Fiona Huang, the company’s director for the Asia Pacific region, noted that walnut oil has been popular with consumers since it entered the Chinese market in June 2020. Nearly 20,000 bottles were sold on Tmall, the biggest Chinese e-commerce website in terms of sales value.
“At present, our products are sold on platforms, such as JD.com and Tmall, as well as in many supermarkets of imported products across the country. We hope that our debut at the CIIE will increase people’s awareness of the brand. We also strive to ensure that our products enjoy a reputation of excellence,” she said, adding that high-quality products are recognized by more and more Chinese consumers.
Normandie 1905 showcased five dairy products, ranging from whole milk to skimmed milk. Among them, its children’s milk has been specially designed to meet the eating habits of Asian children. Ma Hongyu, the company’s chief operating officer for the China region, explained that the company’s products are from the pastures along the coasts of Normandy, a premier dairy region. He hopes that with the CIIE, the company will be able to find more quality partners that better understand the Chinese market and bring more high-quality French dairy products to Chinese consumers.
Consumers in the Chinese market prefer high-quality Norwegian seafood. “With the platform provided by the CIIE to deepen cooperation, I am confident that seafood trade and cooperation between China and Norway will advance,” said Signe Brudeset, Norwegian ambassador to China. This year, the Norwegian Seafood Council brought eight Norwegian seafood exporters to the CIIE for the first time, where they showcased high-quality products, including salmon, mackerel, Arctic cod, Arctic sweet shrimp, and red king crab.
Founded in 1885, Mills is one of the largest and oldest food companies in northern Europe, and one of the eight Norwegian companies participating in the CIIE for the first time. Mills exhibited its flagship product, Arctic cod caviar. Guan Jianwen, the company’s president for the China region, noted that Mills had been rated the best Norwegian food company for 20 consecutive years and that its caviar is popular on all Norwegian tables.
“China has become the largest consumer goods market in the world and is attracting the world’s attention,” said Filore Abduweil, Mills’ vice president for the China region, adding that the company attaches great importance to the Chinese market. Mills wants to cooperate more with well-established Chinese companies to jointly develop the Chinese market and “provide high-quality Arctic products to a large number of households in China.”
The booth of the Swiss Centers, exhibiting a full range of chocolate, drinks, and biscuits, attracted an endless stream of visitors. Kuno Gschwend, managing director of the Swiss Centers China, said that this year, more than a dozen Swiss companies attended the CIIE and that the Morand Distillery, and Blackmint SA, both founded in 1889, were new comers to the Chinese market. The two companies wanted to use the CIIE platform and introduce their respective century-old brands and products, namely Morand Apricot Brandy and Kübler Absinthe, to the Chinese market.
The Swiss Centers has been present at the CIIE since 2018. It helps many Swiss companies participate in the event annually. On October 12, 2018, the Swiss Centers selected the Hong-qiao Central Business District as the seat of its third representative office in Shanghai. The location provides quick and easy access to Hongqiao’s transport hub and the National Convention and Exhibition Center where the CIIE is held. Since its foundation 22 years ago, the Swiss Centers has helped more than 400 Swiss companies invest and promote their business in China.
“Our primary goal is to help Swiss companies, especially SMEs, showcase their products, promote their brands, and find new business partners in the Chinese market,” said Gschwend. The CIIE takes place every year before China’s Double 11 shopping festival, the golden time for businesses to promote their products and services. Thanks to the CIIE platform, many Swiss products have been found on supermarket shelves in China, and registered rapidly expanding sales revenue, according to Gschwend. In the future, it is hoped that more Swiss companies can enter the Chinese market through the CIIE.
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