Industry Report

Are you ready for the Chinese food market?

China is the world’s number one importer of food and beverage products. As disposable incomes and the middle class grow rapidly across China, the country presents exporters with opportunities in a range of categories, including dairy, health supplements, confectionery, bottled water, alcohol, and various others. Our report gives Swiss SMEs an overview of how to formulate a suitable entry and/or expansion strategy for China.


The demand for quality imported products has risen significantly across a multitude of categories, driven by a continued rise in disposable incomes. With over 1.4 billion citizens, there appears to be a market for everything in China, and China’s citizens – led initially by those living in major and coastal cities, but increasingly outside these areas too – are becoming more demanding with regards to their food intake.

Distribution: online and offline

China arguably has the most dynamic purchasing journey for local consumers. E-commerce giants such as Tmall (Alibaba) and offer access to consumers throughout the country, while ‘new retail’ players such as Hema Fresh offer a completely new shopping experience, merging offline with online and maintaining a significant focus on imported premium food and beverage products.

A common approach for Swiss SMEs to start selling in China is by adopting a traditional distributor model: identifying reliable, quality distributors that operate on behalf of the brand in China. This is an effective way to reach both online (through TPs) and offline channels.


Before entering the market, make sure that you are ready for China, and that China is ready for you.

  • Be sure to do your research, and answer the following questions: Is my brand already getting traction online? What are the local developments in this category? Who are my target customers and where are they located? Who are my competitors, how are they selling and performing in China, and what position can my brand take in the market?
  • Talk with the country consultants at Switzerland Global Enterprise and the Swiss Business Hub China, who will support you in reaching a decision on entering the market and help you formulate a corresponding plan
  • See whether your brand is already selling in the market; for premium products in particular, it is common practice for locals to buy the products in your country and sell them through places like Taobao or WeChat – a business model that is known as daigou in Chinese. This can give you valuable insights into existing business and the perception of your brand

Report with detailed information

In a detailed report from our Chinese partner Daxue Consulting, Swiss SMEs are shown what they need to consider when exporting food to the country and how to be successful while doing so. The report gives an overview of:

  • The Chinese food market
  • Distribution channels
  • Supply chain
  • Regulatory environment
  • Case studies – best practices
  • Conclusion



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