Food and beverages in China

What if you could reach 500 million people with your product? How would that affect your sales? China has an appetite for foreign produced food, and some products within food and beverage have less strict trade barriers than others.


The Chinese food and beverage market is extremely diverse and one of the largest in the world, but still heavily influenced by the food scandals that regularly shock the Chinese consumer. This creates a nearly insatiable demand for foreign, and perceived safe consumer products. The Chinese consumer purchase their food and beverages in ways quite different from what we are familiar with in Norway, with e-commerce and mobile purchases taking an ever growing share of the transactions. This opens up the market to foreign brands in ways previously thought impossible.

Growing market

In 2014, the Online Grocery market grew 50% in China and reached a value of NOK 390 billion in 2014, and is expected to be worth NOK 1600 billion by 2020. At the same time, super- and hyper market growth was only 6,7%. According to McKinsey, 40% of Chinese consumers buy food online, compared to the relatively low number of 10% in the US.

Norwegian export to China

China is Norway’s No. 9 largest export market, where consumes are 2.3% of its total export value. Up to 2014, the largest value of export is seen in machinery and electronics, followed by chemical products and animal products (mainly aquatic products).

In the food categories, Norway’s seafood products are by far the largest. Norway has very small exports of some animal products, beverage and spirits, and other miscellaneous edible preparations.

Different trade barriers

There are still different trade barriers in different sub-sectors, for instance, it’s relatively simpler to export beverage and spirits into China than meat or dairy products, although we consider much higher market demand for the latter.

In addition to trade barriers, Chinese market is generally very competitive in almost every sector given the huge market size and strong ambition of numerous suppliers.

Areas of opportunities

Therefore, we perceive the most significant areas of opportunities for Norwegian food and beverage producers are probably:

  • Chocolates, sugar and candies
  • Beverages and spirits
  • Cereal products
  • Meat products that have less strict import control; dried, cured, processed, canned

Trade barriers are relatively low in these segments while market demand is huge and diversified, which invites competition.

For Norwegian companies wanting to make their products available for the Chinese consumer, this trend makes it easier to break into the Chinese market.

– Regarding agricultural products –

The Norwegian Mattilsynet and the Chinese  AQSIQ need to enter into a bilateral agreement before any export can take place. In the present bilateral situation, this can be problematic to achieve.

Contact us

Innovation Norway China recommends getting in touch with one of our offices and we can set up meetings with representatives from the various online food and beverage platforms, which are always looking for new, foreign products to add to their inventory. Innovation Norway China has an extensive network and good experience connecting Norwegian producers with China’s many online platforms.

Get in touch with us today!

Thomas Sørensen
Market Advisor Innovation Norway
+86 189 1770 3052
+47 983 21 089
+86 021 6032 0803


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