Food Digital Week in China: discovering new F&B market trends and regulatory insights

With a five-year CAGR of 13.5% and almost US$114 billion of imported food in 2020 China has taken the lead as the world’s largest food importer and consumer
Food Digital Week in China: discovering new F&B market trends and regulatory insights

The F&B industry in China is dynamic, with big changes coming in the form of new market trends and consumption habits, expanding distribution and promotion channels, and increasingly demanding regulations and specific standards. Exploring some of these priority topics in the food industry was the focus of the Food Digital Week (FDW), a virtual event held last June 21st-25th 2021 by the Asia-Pacific news platform ChemLinked , an internationally renowned regulatory consulting group with HQ in China and offices across East Asia, Europe and the United States.

The event focused on trade, regulatory and marketing updates and discussed changing strategies for the Chinese food market, with multiple food industry experts and government representatives from China and overseas analyzing the latest health food, dairy products, pet food, and Cross-Border E-Commerce (CBEC) trends.

Guest speakers included Mr. Jiao Yang (Director of TBT research center of China’s General Administration of Customs), Mr. Zhang Zhongpeng (Director of China Chamber of Commerce for Import & Export of Medicines & Health Products), Mrs. Jan Carey (CEO of the Infant Nutrition Council), and Ms. Andrea Gottschalk (social media strategist of Digiant Global) and Senior Regulatory Affairs expert Ms. Yilia Ye (REACH24H).


The Italian Trade Agency partnered with the Food Digital Week, which bears proof to the strong trade relations and relevance of China’s food market to Italy. The presentations made during the FDW offered valuable insights and potential opportunities for Italian producers.

One of such import experts from the food sector in Italy was Vincenza Caputo, who attended the event and shared her thoughts on Italian products in the ever-growing Chinese food world. “Some of the trends analyzed are very important for Italian products, such as the development and growing consumer demand for cheese. China’s expanding middle class, with increasing disposable income and a greater exposure to international trends as an effect of globalization, has become more open to western eating habits. This diet diversification has also seen as a symbol of elevated social and economic status and an openness to more international lifestyles, resulting also in a growing interest in cheese” – Caputo said.

This can be confirmed by the growth of Italian cheese imports recorded over the last five years. The Chinese government has made dairy consumption a national priority and, most recently in 2020, introduced a Promotion Action Plan to foster consumers’ confidence towards domestic dairy products, including a proposal to reach a raw milk self-sufficiency level of 70%. “I believe this specific conditions highlight the market opportunity for Italian businesses producing processed dairy products such as cheese. I believe it is reasonable to expect the demand for Italian cheese will continue to rise in the near future” – said Caputo.


China has developed a dynamic food market, where urbanization, globalization and income growth meets culture and tradition, with a constantly evolving regulatory landscape that look towards international standards while making sure they stay aligned with their domestic priorities.


For Italian F&B products to develop a successful market strategy to access China, there are a number of factors to consider. Businesses need to study and develop a strategy that addresses new distribution channels, like Cross-Border E-Commerce (CBEC), and China’s exclusive marketing promotion platforms, i.e. Wechat, Douyin and Livestreaming, and it manages its constantly evolving regulations, as the food industry is amongst the most heavily monitored one. This includes complying with new requirements for import food labeling and promotion and new measures on food safety implemented by the Chinese Customs.

Julia PochatInternational Communications and Partnership Specialist REACH24H Consulting Group & ChemLinked

Vincenza CaputoItaly-China Food Import Expert

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