Bord Bia today signed a partnership agreement in Shanghai with SF Best, one of China’s leading ecommerce platforms for fresh and frozen imported food which will see online promotion and sale of Irish food and drink over the next 12 months. This week’s promotions will focus on premium Irish seafood and over the coming months products including the Kerrygold dairy range and alcoholic beverages will also be promoted on the SFBest site.
At today's contract signing event were from left to right, Mr. Zhijun LIAN, CEO of SF BEST, Mr. Dongqi LI, VP of SF Group, Mr. Paul Kavanagh, Ireland Ambassador to China, Ms. Therese Healy, Consul General in Shanghai, Mr. James O'Donnell, Asia Director of Bord Bia.
Bord Bia Asia Director James O Donnell signed the agreement with Group Vice President of SF Mr. George Li and was joined for the ceremony by the ambassador of Ireland to China Mr. Paul Kavanagh. Mr. O`Donnell said “This is an ideal partnership for Bord Bia; Irish food is trusted by families in China as a safe, clean and healthy choice and SFBest is trusted by Chinese families for its unparalleled record in safe and secure logistics.”
SF Best is a subsidiary of China’s SF Express Group which is the market leader in delivery logistics and has an annual turnover of €1.71 billion. The company operates 2,800 stores across China and - importantly for Irish food exporters - its ecommerce business is recognized as a leader in fresh and frozen imported produce. SF Best turns over €150m annually with some 1.5 million people visiting the website daily.
Significant potential of e-commerce in China
Online shopping for food is becoming an increasingly important part of Chinese consumers’ purchasing habits. In the first three months of 2015 alone, the value of Chinese online shopping transactions exceeded RMB750 billion (€108 billion), up 45% on the same period in 2013. According to a new study by Netherlands based Rabobank and Wageningen University, online sales of food are expected to continue growing at a rate of 50% annually, to a value of €280 billion by 2025. Imported food is expected to account for some 13% of this total value.
Speaking at the contract signing Ambassador Kavanagh said: “The potential return from this venture is enormous, building as it does on the success of previous online Irish food and drink promotions. With eleven percent of all Chinese retail purchases now conducted through online channels and some 63 percent of Chinese consumers shopping online weekly, there has been an unprecedented demand for imported food and beverages as consumers enjoy the convenience, competitive prices and quality assurance offered by online retailers.”
Food and Drink exports to China
Ireland’s exports to China increased in value by 50% last year to reach €367 million and exports to Hong Kong increased by 24% to €180 million. China and Hong Kong continues to be a growing market for Irish seafood with exports increasing nearly five-fold in value since 2011 to reach almost €27 million in 2014. This positive growth in Irish exports to the region continued in 2014 with sales to mainland China up 45% year-on-year compared to the 2013 figure.
Attracting Chines business
Through its trade development programme, Bord Bia has been very successful in encouraging high-end retail and foodservice Chinese customers to visit Ireland to meet with Irish food producers and processors on a one to one basis. These itineraries have been very effective in generating new business for the sector through providing first hand experiences of Irish farms and food and drink companies and the unspoilt environment in which Irish food is produced. These visits provide a guarantee to Chinese customers on traceability, sustainability and food safety, all key issues of growing concern to the Chinese middle class consumer.
During the last three years, Bord Bia has welcomed more than 200 Asian customers to Ireland on customised itineraries. Many of these visits have delivered new business for Irish food processors and in March 2015 alone, as part of its Marketplace International event, Bord Bia hosted an additional 100 Asian customers on an inward visit to Ireland. The buyers met with Ireland’s leading food exporters and Bord Bia is well on its way to its target of securing €7 million worth of new business for the seafood sector arising from this event. In September 2013, over €4 million worth of new business was secured with a range of Asian seafood customers who travelled to Ireland to attend Bord Bia’s Global Sustainability Conference.