Posts tagged ‘Food’


Chinese potatoes to chip in as water shortages hit staple crops | Reuters

Once seen as food for the poor, the humble potato is being pushed in China as a tasty, nutritious part of any meal as the world’s most populous country struggles with water shortages and looks for alternatives to the traditional rice and noodles.

China already produces 95 million tonnes of potatoes a year, a quarter of the global total, and is aiming to raise that to 130 million tonnes by 2020, government officials said at the World Potato Congress on the outskirts of Beijing this week.

“In China, the potato industry is no longer an industry for underdeveloped areas or the poor, but highlights the country’s modern agricultural drive and enriches people’s dining tables,” Agriculture Minister Han Changfu told the conference.

Beijing has begun this year to promote the potato as more of a staple food, particularly as a substitute foodstuff for grain, an idea that has taken on urgency as water problems threaten to undermine food security, vital for political legitimacy.

The North China Plain is suffering as a result of decades of excessive underground water use by both industry and wheat farmers.

In some parts of Hebei, the third-largest wheat-producing region, farmers have been banned from growing wheat in order to preserve underground water. Excessive digging for irrigation has caused subsidence and even landslides, the local government has said.

David A. Thompson, president of the World Potato Congress, told reporters that potatoes would serve China’s plans to improve agricultural sustainability.

“Potatoes provide more energy and protein per acre than other crops,” he said.

The congress was held in Yanqing, a suburb of Beijing around 100 km (62 miles) northwest of the city center, where a 12,000-square-metre international potato center has been built along with a museum for the vegetable and a potato breeding center.

“Small potatoes, stand up and become a staple to ensure the country’s grain security,” urges a banner outside the museum.

In an exhibition hall, potatoes are used to make dozens of different types of food, including popular local fare such as steamed bread, noodles and dumplings as well as western-style pizza and even cookies.

“Potatoes can make hundreds or even thousands of dishes, as well as more than 200 types of staple and western-style food,” said Zhang Aiguo, a cook at the exhibition.

“If more and more consumers get to know that potatoes have more nutrition, they are willing to take them. People nowadays care more about quality and healthy food,” said Zhang, holding a big plate of steamed bread made with potatoes.

via Chinese potatoes to chip in as water shortages hit staple crops | Reuters.


China to phase out outdated regulations – Xinhua |

China has announced a new drive to phase out outdated rules.

The State Council, the country’s cabinet, said on Tuesday that it will put all government rules and regulations since the founding of the New China under scrutiny.

A statement from the State Council said the new undertaking, which will take approximately three years, is crucial to cutting red tape and devolving power while improving regulation, and to building a law-based government.

In particular, authorities will focus on removing obsolete government regulations that now run counter to the Constitution and laws, impede deepening reform and opening up, and those that infringe on citizens’ rights and interests.

The government should make sure that “anything the law does not authorize is not done, while all duties and functions assigned by law are performed”, the statement said, adding that details of rules to be abolished will be made public and that the campaign will be based on “scientific evaluation”, so as not to leave room for “regulation vacuums”.

via China to phase out outdated regulations – Xinhua |


China seizes 30,000 in 2014 for food, drug crimes – Xinhua |

Chinese police apprehended nearly 30,000 in connection with food and drug safety offences in 2014, closing 35,000 illegal factories and workshops, the Ministry of Public Security revealed Friday.

Food safety is still a serious problem in China, despite of some improvement, the ministry’s Hua Jingfeng told a press conference.

Hua noted that cases related to baby formula and “gutter oil” have decreased, but those concerning other substandard foods have increased.

Violations by big companies have dropped substantially while cases involving small companies and workshops increased, he said.

Some new crimes have emerged, including injecting Epinephrine Hydrochloride into pork which makes the pork look fresh and adds weight.

Last month, police arrested more than 110 suspects for selling pork from diseased pigs, confiscating over 1,000 tons of contaminated pork and 48 tons of cooking oil processed from the pork and other unclean meat.

via China seizes 30,000 in 2014 for food, drug crimes – Xinhua |


Does China Pose a Threat to Global Food Security? It Says No – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Twenty years ago, environmental advocate Lester Brown got in hot water with Beijing for writing a book called “Who Will Feed China?”

China was displeased with the suggestion in his book that the country’s growing population and water scarcity could drastically burden the world’s food resources. Beijing publicly criticized the author – then began a series of reforms including improving farming techniques and adopting a national policy of self-sufficiency in grain consumption that vindicated Mr. Brown’s arguments. It paved the way for a gradual rapprochement with the American, now 80.

Détente is over.

On Wednesday, China’s agriculture ministry issued a statement again criticizing Mr. Brown. It took umbrage with an essay he wrote titled “Can the World Feed China?” a riff on his earlier book. The essay details Mr. Brown’s concerns that rising domestic pressures on food consumption could result in spiking food prices and political unrest as China joins in a global “scramble for food.”

It isn’t clear why Mr. Brown was singled out for criticism; many analysts have in one form or other also articulated these trends, though arguably not as directly or pungently. But the move underscores how increasingly sensitive China is to the growing impression that it can’t feed itself and that its acquisitions of global food assets are posing a risk to food security for the rest of the world. China has been keen in recent years to head off any impression that it’s on a global grab for natural resources.

Mr. Brown wasn’t immediately available for comment.

The government is unhappy with the notion it’s being blamed for sharpening global competition for food. Mr. Brown’s essay said China’s rising grain imports  mean “it is competing directly with scores of other grain-importing countries.” He also warned that China’s purchase last year of U.S. pork producer Smithfield Foods “was really a pork security move.” So too, he said, was China’s deal with Ukraine to provide $3 billion in loans in exchange for corn. “Such moves by China exemplify the new geopolitics of food scarcity that affects us all,” he wrote.

Not likely, ministry spokesman Bi Meijia said in the government’s statement. Mr. Bi said 97% of China’s grain consumption comes from its own output, not imports.

“On the issue of food security, China not only does not pose a threat to the world, but makes a contribution to global food security,” he said. China intends to continue its existing policies, he said.

Mr. Bi said rising grain imports aren’t due to domestic shortages, but because global prices are lower than domestic prices. The ministry also pointed out that imports accounted for just 2.6% of domestic grain production volume in 2013, and just 4% of global output.

via Does China Pose a Threat to Global Food Security? It Says No – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

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How Small U.S. Businesses Can Court Customers in China – Businessweek

Question: What are Chinese consumers looking for in an online shopping experience? What would you describe as the main reason websites aimed at Chinese consumers fail?

How Small U.S. Businesses Can Court Customers in China

Answer: News about Chinese tech companies making their way to Wall Street has been raising awareness about the vast potential Chinese market for U.S. small businesses. China is definitely interested in American-made goods. Here are some steps you can take to make sure your website is appealing to these new customers.

First, as I discussed recently, you need a website in Chinese. Make sure the site is created by a native Mandarin speaker who can convey the culture of your brand without a clunky verbatim translation that will fall flat, says James Chan, president of Asia Marketing & Management.

The main obstacle to selling online in China is the pervasive fear of being cheated or of buying a pirated product. “You need to find the best way of making a Chinese customer in front of a computer comfortable with the fact that you really have a brick-and-mortar company on American soil,” Chan says.

Pictures are a must: an exterior shot of your office or shop, a map showing your location, and pictures of you and your staff. A video of you talking about your business and its history (include Chinese subtitles) and giving a tour of your premises will go a long way. “Some companies ship orders with a certificate that says, ‘This product is made in America,’” Chan says. “Others will wrap the product in their city’s American newspaper for that day. Anything that authenticates you will help.”

Your site should also feature lots of good pictures of your products. “Use different angles, show different colors, and give detailed written descriptions as well,” advises Stanley Chao, managing director of All In Consulting, and author of Selling to China: A Guide to Doing Business in China for Small- and Medium-Sized Companies (2012). “Seeing is believing for the Chinese.”

Anything you can think of that would allow a wary Chinese customer to feel comfortable with your company will help: Your mailing address, your e-mail address, your telephone number. It will cost some money, but if you can, hire a customer service representative who speaks Chinese and can answer telephone queries or at least provide online chat support. “Also, always include 100 percent-guaranteed refunds, or even an added incentive where they get a small credit for the inconvenience of returning something they did not like,” Chao advises.

The piracy problem has prompted Chinese shopping sites such as to institute multilayered customer rating systems for every product, Chan says. You most likely cannot replicate that, but you can include comments on your site—in Mandarin and English—from your Chinese customers. “If others successfully bought your products, then [Chinese customers will think] maybe you are trustworthy.”

Being a small business will put you at a disadvantage in the minds of most Chinese consumers, Chan says, so if your company has any connection to a celebrity or an iconic American brand—such as a major corporation that buys your products, sells them in its retail outlets, or uses your services—trumpet that connection on your site, with pictures, if possible. “Maybe you make a food product that has been served at the White House, or your shoes were worn by an American celebrity,” he suggests. That will appeal to some shoppers in China. “Just make sure you’re being truthful,” Chan says.

Company websites fail in China for the same reasons they fail in the U.S.: They’re done on the cheap, so they are marred by misspellings, ugly design, bad photos, and technical glitches. “I’ve noticed that successful sites are updated frequently, so users want to come back to check for new information, special deals, or more products. This also shows that the site is active, it’s busy, and there are real people behind it,” Chao says.

The bottom line: Take care of your Chinese customers, and they will recommend your company to their friends, show off your products proudly, and visit your store when they’re vacationing in the U.S. When they do, get pictures and put them on your website, Chan says: “If you can build a history in China, where there are millions of people buying and selling online, you’ll win big business there.”

via How Small U.S. Businesses Can Court Customers in China – Businessweek.

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Off the Menu: Hong Kong Government Bans Shark’s Fin

Austerity and anti-graft comes to the rescue of sharks (whose fins are cut and hence the fish bleed to death).

WSJ: “Hong Kong may be the capital of the world’s shark’s fin trade, but as environmentalists step up their campaign against the delicacy, even this city’s government has declared it off-limits.

Last year, China’s government announced it would stop serving shark’s fin soup at official banquets, a move that was heralded by green groups around the world, though it will likely take years to come into effect. Now, Hong Kong is following suit, banning the dish at official events and requesting civil servants to refrain from eating it at other functions, along with other endangered species such as bluefin tuna and black moss. The move comes as international companies from luxury Shangri-La hotel chain to Cathay Pacific Airways have declared they will refuse to serve or carry most shark’s fin.

Altogether, said Allen To of the World Wildlife Foundation, more than 150 corporations have pledged not to serve the dish—a gelatinous, stringy soup that’s believed to have curative properties—at their own banquets. “But it’s still very common at wedding banquets,” said Mr. To, noting that at local restaurants, it can be more expensive for couples to swap out shark’s fin soup for other luxury dishes such as abalone or bird’s nest soup.”

via Off the Menu: Hong Kong Government Bans Shark’s Fin – China Real Time Report – WSJ.


A Premium Milk Brand for India’s Elite

WSJ: “India’s rich and elite like their premium services, from hopping on private jets to receiving Dior goods at their doorstep. But the simple things apply, too.

A premium milk labeled Pride of Cows counts among its consumers the cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s family and Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan, according to Parag Milk Foods Private Ltd.

Parag Milk Foods, the founder of Gowardhan dairies, launched the Pride of Cows milk in July 2011, initially marketing it as a “by invitation or reference only product” to select celebrities and industrialists.

According to a 2011 survey by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, 70% of the milk consumed in the country is adulterated.

Parag Milk Foods Chairman Devendra Shah says the Pride of Cows brand functions by the rule that “happy cows give better milk.” At its Bhagyalaxmi Dairy farm in Pune, around 3,500 Holstien Friesan cows are pampered with music, showers and specially designed nutritional meals, Mr. Shah says. “The result is milk full of love and high nutritional values.”

Parag Milk says it breeds its cows with imported bull semen from North America. Feed is tailor-made for cows of different ages, and the menu is changed regularly to include fresh seasonal crops and specials.

“This way we have complete control over the breed, feed and health of our cows, which in turn leads to complete control over the quality of milk,” said Mr. Shah.

“We have implemented ‘cow comfort’ technology, wherein our cows have soft rubber mats to lie on, streaming music, air-coolers to keep them cool, automated scrubbers to clean them and regular preventive healthcare checks,” added Edmund Piper, a U.K. national who was hired as the farm’s manager four years ago.

Parag Milk Foods signed up celebrities like writer Shobha De as Pride of Cows brand ambassadors, while it can count industrialist Raj Kundra, co-owner of the Rajasthan Royals cricket team, as a fan.

“Being a British-born Indian, I’ve always missed the milk from the UK. I can’t tell you how happy I was to sample this milk – it’s world class. I can finally start drinking milk and enjoying my cereal,” says an endorsement by Mr. Kundra on the Pride of Cows website.

Pride of Cows isn’t available in shops; it’s only delivered – in insulated boxes with ice bags — on subscription. It costs 75 rupees ($1.35) a liter, making it an expensive alternative to other milk, which generally costs around 35 rupees to 50 rupees in the markets. Nestlé milk is among the other brands available in India, costing 62 rupees a liter.”

via A Premium Milk Brand for India’s Elite – India Real Time – WSJ.

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* British shops ration baby milk as Chinese demand surges

Reuters: “British shops are rationing sales of baby milk after Chinese visitors and bulk buyers cleared their shelves to send it to China, where many parents fear the local versions are dangerous.

Shoppers browse the aisles in the Canary Wharf store of Waitrose in London January 23, 2013. REUTERS/Neil Hall

The British Retail Consortium (BRC), whose members account for 80 percent of the sector, said many stores had imposed a two-box limit on each customer to deter the “unofficial exports” to China.

Demand for foreign milk powder has been high in China since at least six infants died and 300,000 fell ill in 2008 after they drank milk laced with the industrial chemical melamine.

The scandal sapped consumer confidence in Chinese-made food and led to shortages of powdered milk in Hong Kong and Australia as people bought boxes to export to China.

The rise of the middle-class Chinese working mother has greatly increased sales of baby milk in the world’s most populous country. Fast-growing markets like China support a global baby food market worth an estimated $30 billion a year.”

via British shops ration baby milk as Chinese demand surges | Reuters.


* IKEA Meatball Scandal in China: It’s Not What You Think

WSJ: “At the risk of beating a dead horse, China Real Time feels compelled to update readers on the latest flare-up in the global meat contamination scandal from the Chinese point of view.

According to a report in the state-run China Daily on Wednesday, the Swedish meatballs that furniture retailer IKEA sells in China have stirred controversy– not because they were found to contain equine DNA like some of the company’s meatballs in Europe, but because it turns out they’re made in China.

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

This picture taken on Feb. 25, 2013 shows meatballs at IKEA department store in Brno, the Czech Republic.

“I thought the meatballs were imported from Sweden,” the China Daily quoted Jiang Tong, an IT worker in Beijing, as saying. “I don’t think I will order such meatballs in the future.”

IKEA’s spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment. China Daily said the meatballs at IKEA’s China outlets do not contain horsemeat, as the company gets its meatballs, made with beef and pork, from a manufacturer based in China’s coastal Fujian province.

News of horsemeat turning up in beef products sourced in Europe has spread across the globe in recent weeks, hurting the reputations of some of Europe’s biggest food producers. The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that IKEA has removed meatballs from many of its cafeterias after traces of horsemeat were found in a batch in the Czech Republic.”

via IKEA Meatball Scandal in China: It’s Not What You Think – China Real Time Report – WSJ.


* Starbucks Plays to Local Chinese Tastes

WSJ: “After nearly 14 years of working to persuade China to buy into its foreign coffee culture, Starbucks Corp is aiming to become more Chinese as it plans a rapid expansion in the country.image

Belinda Wong, president of Starbucks China, said in an interview that Starbucks aims to roll out 800 new stores in the next three years to add to its existing fleet of 700. Over that period it will increase the number of employees to more than 30,000 from the current 12,000.

The company aims to capture a larger market by going more local and applying its cultural insights, Ms. Wong said. For instance, whereas kiosk-sized stores work well in the U.S., where office workers grab bacon-gouda sandwiches to go in the morning on the way to work, Starbucks has learned that Chinese consumers value space and couches on which to relax in the afternoons.

The coffee company is adding some stores that are nearly 3,800 square feet and can seat consumers who come with groups of friends and business partners. Starbucks also has discovered that Chinese tastes for coffee go only so far. It plans to introduce new Chinese-inspired flavors, building on existing favorites like red bean frappuccinos.

Localization is a critical factor in the success or failure of foreign companies in China. Yum Brands Inc has thrived in China by adding fried shrimp and soy milk, among many other Chinese items, to its KFC outlets and fresh seafood bacon pizza and Thai-style fried rice to its Pizza Huts.

Businesses that have failed to grasp the local culture, importing alien models, have fallen out of favor. In September, Home Depot Inc closed all seven of its remaining big-box stores in China after years of losses, having discovered that the do-it-yourself home improvement model doesn’t work well in a do-it-for-me Chinese culture. Best Buy Co closed its nine China outlets in February 2011 after discovering consumers needed washing machines, not espresso makers or stereos.”

via Starbucks Plays to Local Chinese Tastes –

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