Shanghai, a Tour among High End Stores visited the Olè, APiTA, Fresh Mart and Blt chains. Among their aisles Italian pasta, tomato and pesto sauces are ruling

Amongst many international chains in Shanghai, Italian products are carving out larger spaces and play a key role in food imported from Europe. We are talking about high end stores for local and foreign customers where a big number of personnel are to be found to guide purchases and offer tastings.

ITALIAN PRODUCTS IN SHANGHAI RETAIL CHAINS visited the chains Olè, APiTA, Fresh Mart and Blt where Barilla, De Cecco, La Molisana, Agnesi, Liguori and Alce Nero are widely present on the shelves of pasta and ready-made sauces. There is a plenitude of preserves: peeled, legumes and, to a lesser extent, jams. In the confectionery section, you can find Ferrero Rocher and Perugina chocolates, in various formats and packaging.

In the refrigerator section, central to the aisles and next to the area of fresh fruit and vegetables, the Italian names are Zanetti and Ambrosi (seasoned cheeses and, in Fresh Mart, mascarpone), Galbani (mozzarella), while in the long-life section, Granarolo milk is placed in a little visible corner of the shelving.

As for cured meats (Beretta and Casa Modena with raw and, above all, salame Milano), coffee (illycaffè and Lavazza with a wide choice of styles and packaging) and bottled water (Panna and San Pellegrino). Filled wafers, dominated by Loacker, are to be found everywhere, mostly in the ‘mini squares’ format. At Blt, there are Ringo – with the Barilla Mulino Bianco brand in evidence – and at Fresh Mart the pastries Matilde Vicenzi. At Olè, Nutella is to be found in several formats, as the only hazelnut cream available.

Cinque Stelle Sammontana cone and Valsoia ad APiTA beverages are isolated presences. At Blt, there are San Carlo chips and in the most crowded tourist areas of Fresh Mart, a high-quality a 3.660 yuan (485 euro) Balsamic Vinegar is not very visible at bottom of the shelf, near the floor.

Overall, however, Italian products are well positioned in these stores of the Chinese economic capital, usually on the upper shelves, and, given the high price, sometimes offered with discounts and sometimes highlighted with a recommended tag.


The sale of imported food specialties represents at least 85% of its turnover. Strengthened by partnerships with over 100 international brands, giant China Resources Vanguard premium brand makes 1% of its turnover and keeps expanding.


The targeted clientele is composed of foreigners but also Chinese shoppers, increasingly attracted by foreign specialties, especially from Europe. It currently runs 52 stores in Shanghai, Chengdu, Nanning, Xi’an, Shenyand and Zhongshan. Very often located in particularly luxurious shopping centers or high-income areas. The Italian food offer is represented above all by pasta, cheese, salami and a selection of wines.


Its name comes from the combination of two Italian words: apex and pocket. Together, they refer to a concept of pioneering and to the ability to capture the latest trends. Elements that the Japanese chain tries to replicate in stores, with an offer that ranges from food products to clothing and home furnishings.


Its mega store- located in the Hong Kong Cityplaza shopping center- is managed by Unicorn Stores, formerly known as UNY, which was acquired last year by Henderson Investment. The offer in the grocery section focuses on new flavours, giving much space to specialties imported from abroad. Among these, the excellence of Made in Italy certainly stands out, enhanced by the Italian Food Fair campaign, which provides weekly discounts and promotions on dozens of products.


Its location- in the basement of the luxurious New World City Plaza shopping center in Shanghai, next to the subway stop- probably penalizes the shop, hiding it from shoppers who are not passing through. Nevertheless, Freshmart is considered to be one of the busiest supermarkets in the city center, so much so that it is also known for the queues at the register.


From snacks to dressings, Japanese, South Korean and American products stand out above all, with a grater range of choice than its competitors. But what mostly attracts consumers, is the presence of many specialties imported from abroad, including Europe, with particular attention to gourmet foods. Prices are on average higher than Western chains, such as Carrefour.


The acronym of its name, controlled by the distribution giant China Resources Vanguard, is Better Life Together. It is more than a chain of conventional luxury stores, Blt stores fully interpret the concept of a boutique supermarket, with a premium positioning and a wide assortment of food products imported from abroad.


The commercial space varies from one thousand to 3 thousand square meters, with an offer that ranges from a minimum of 10 thousand references up to 15 thousand at the supermarket located in the KK Mall in Shenzhen. For several years the brand, despite having much in common with the Olè Supermarket brand, differs by focusing on a farmer’s market profile, focusing a lot on the freshness of food on offer, starting with fruit and vegetables, alongside a focus on natural produces and environmental sustainability.

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