Products from New Zealand and Vanuatu are ready to be shipped to the fourth China International Import Expo (CIIE) from the Auckland port in New Zealand, Sept. 25, 2021. (Photo/Xinhua)
Ahead of the upcoming fourth China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, New Zealand's largest dairy company Fonterra has already signed its contract in advance to secure a spot at next year's CIIE.
Fonterra is one of the many New Zealand companies embracing the opportunities popping up at the CIIE. This year, more than 20 New Zealand companies will showcase their products at the two New Zealand pavilions, "Taste New Zealand" and "Health New Zealand". In addition, big New Zealand brands will have their stand-alone pavilions at the CIIE venue.
Roy van den Hurk, general manager of Theland Global R&D at Milk New Zealand Dairy, is an "old friend" to the CIIE. Hurk became famous when he launched the company's online livestream platform last year at the CIIE after spending time in the managed isolation and taking multiple COVID-19 tests.
This year, due to the border restrictions in New Zealand, Hurk was not able to go to Shanghai in person. He is still committed to the CIIE and will participate in the event online.
"The fourth China International Import Expo is held under the global pandemic background. It gives me strong confidence that China is still keeping an opening-up policy and efficiently controls COVID-19," he said.
"Its huge consumer market helps foreign trade enterprises like us to find opportunities in the green food industry and promote global economic recovery. With the New Zealand-China free trade agreement (FTA) upgrade, we take the CIIE as a fast-sales growing channel for New Zealand Dairy companies to enter into China's big market."
Thanks to the FTA and its upgrading, dairy products export from New Zealand to China has taken off rapidly. This week, New Zealand's major dairy companies will gather at the CIIE. Chinese consumers will enjoy multiple New Zealand dairy brands besides Fonterra and Theland.
Mengniu Yashili, also a four-term veteran of the CIIE, will showcase its New Zealand-made infant formula products. The CIIE's new face Blue River Dairy will debut its sheep milk products.
In addition to dairy products, Chinese consumers will not miss out the high-quality New Zealand food and beverage products to taste a pure New Zealand.
Silver Fern Farms, New Zealand's largest producer and exporter of red meat, which has also participated in the CIIE four times in a row, will be presenting chilled beef and lamb, as well as Reserve beef catered to the high-end food service sector. The company is also introducing its retail gift box of venison products at this year's CIIE.
According to Chief Executive Simon Limmer, China has been the fastest-growing market for Silver Fern Farms over the past decade and has become Silver Fern Farms' largest international market for three consecutive years.
"The CIIE provides a great opportunity to showcase our brand and raise brand awareness of Silver Fern Farms, further positioning both our company and New Zealand as a world-leading red meat exporter. The CIIE also brought us closer to our customers and consumers, enabling us to learn consumer preferences first-hand and then adapt to meet Chinese market demand," he said.
One of the most active New Zealand companies at the CIIE, Pic's Peanut Butter Company is the largest peanut butter manufacturer in New Zealand. Pic Picto, owner and founder of the company, eyed the CIIE as a huge opportunity.
"Pic's are looking forward to participating in the CIIE this year with a stand in New Zealand National Pavilion. The CIIE is a very important part of Pic's journey in China, providing a wonderful opportunity for us to engage with new and existing customers from all over the country."
After New Zealand and Australia, China is Pic's third biggest market, accounting for around 15 percent of sales. The company's close relationship with Chinese distributor Ebaytown has seen Pic's premium food products available in a multitude of retail channels, 69-year-old Picto added.
Health products companies, such as Grin Natural, are also coming back to the CIIE this year after huge benefits from participating in the past CIIE events. Grin saw an increase of eight times in its sales volume after participating in the CIIE 2019 and 2020.
More New Zealand companies are coming on board, attracted by CIIE's role in brand exposure and sales promotion. OTU Wine Estate and Mill Orchard are the first-time participants in the CIIE. The two South Island-based companies are endeavoring respectively to present their high-quality wine and beverage products to Chinese consumers.
"For many years, we have witnessed the development of the Chinese economy. We are very confident in the Chinese market," said N.A.J. White, co-founder and executive director of Mill Orchard.
Huang Yuefeng, economic and commercial counsellor of the Chinese embassy in New Zealand, said the CIIE has proved to be an important business platform for companies around the world in showcasing their expertise to the Chinese market.
"It is also an excellent platform for New Zealand companies to introduce products and services to Chinese consumers and to strengthen and establish connections with the huge market. Through the CIIE, New Zealand products with high quality have been winning greater popularity and exposure in the Chinese market, earning the consumer's trust and satisfaction," Huang said.
Andrew White, regional director for Greater China from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), was pleased to see a big New Zealand presence at this year's expo.
"The CIIE is an important event in the business calendar in China. It is the first import-focused international expo. It is a very interesting initiative from the Chinese government, as part of its market opening-up and expanding those opportunities for international companies," he said.
"New Zealand has been participating in the CIIE from the very first year. NZTE and a lot of New Zealand companies have been active at the expo and embrace the opportunity. The positive feedback grew from the opportunity to meet existing channel partners, make new potential partners on the market, share the new products, and build their brand awareness," White added.
"The CIIE is one part of their efforts to reach the China market, but the fact that 20 or so companies coming back in the CIIE itself is very encouraging."
"It's been quite a challenging sort of 12 to 18 months for businesses to travel across the world. It's not something that impacts only New Zealand businesses. I think the CIIE has a very valuable opportunity to continue to build your brand in the market and export through," said White.
Wayne Huang, principal of the Institute of Commercial Education New Zealand, said the CIIE will bring more opportunities for enterprises from all over the world, noting "the practice in the past 40 years (since China's reform and opening-up) proves that China's peaceful development is an anchor of stability and a driving force for world trade and economy."
"The economies of China and New Zealand are highly dependent and highly complementary. Bilateral trade has grown against the trend of COVID-19. It is foreseeable that with the boosts of the CIIE and the New Zealand-China FTA upgrade, the China market will play an important role in the post-pandemic recovery of New Zealand enterprises," Huang said.
China has been New Zealand's top trading partner since 2017. The two countries upgraded their free trade agreement in January this year. China continues to be New Zealand's largest trading partner and export market.
According to the trade figures from Statistics NZ, from Jan. 1 to Oct. 20 this year, New Zealand exported 15.36 billion New Zealand dollars' worth of products to China, an increase of 26 percent from the 12.19 billion New Zealand dollars last year. (1 New Zealand dollar equals 0.72 U.S. dollars)