China: Smart Consumers and ‘New Retail’ Drive China’s Food Retail Sector
China’s retail sector recorded $5.4 trillion in sales revenue in 2017, a 10 percent increase from 2016, with similar strong growth expected to have happened in 2018. Driven by its huge population, urbanization, and the rising per capita disposable income of the growing middle class, China’s demand for imported consumer-oriented food products is expected to grow at a steady pace. Chinese consumers’ demand for convenience is driven by busy lifestyles and facilitated by far-reaching digitalization. In 2018, China’s import of consumer-oriented food products reached approximately $45 billion, up 18 percent from 2017. Data-driven ‘new retail’ formats combining online and offline (O2O) have a firm footing and are expanding rapidly and creating new competition and challenges for traditional retailers. Increased tariffs on U.S. products have some retailers looking for substitute products. Opportunities exist for fresh and dried fruit, beef, dairy, seafood, nuts, pork and other products.