Food scandals in China, an opportunity for imported products!

A new food scandal in China

100 000 tons of outdated meat

The Chinese media revealed two weeks ago that 100 000 tons of outdated meat were seized within the framework of a national crackdown campaign. Some of the seized lots were more than 40 years old. According to the policemen who proceeded to the search, a nauseating smell was coming from the premises which were crammed with chicken wings, pieces of beef, and pork. The oldest pieces would have been packaged when Mao tse Toung, founder of the Chinese republic, was still alive!

An organized traffic

This traffic of outdated meat would be conducted by organized bands. 14 of those bands would have already been dismantled on the Chinese territory during the campaign led by the health authorities last June. The stocks would be transported through border areas with Vietnam, regions where they can avoid scrutiny.

Food security, a national priority

According to a recent survey, 77% of Chinese people would consider food security a national priority. No surprise, considering the serial food scandals the country had to deal with during the past few years.


Chapter of disasters

The doped pigs of Shanghui


By the end of May 2011, clenbuterol was found in products from Shanghai, the first Chinese producer of porc. This chemical substance originally intended for vet use is a doping agent that changes fat into muscles. For consumers who ingest it, clenbuterol can induce palpitations, nausea, and insomnia… About a hundred people among which officials were arrested within the framework of this case. China already had to deal with a similar case in Shanghai in 2006, and later in the province of Guangdong in 2009.

The adulterated oil

32 people were arrested in September 2011 for sailing as alimentary an oil that was recycled from the swill collected in the gutters behind restaurants. This oil would represent 10% of the alimentary oil in circulation. More than 100 tons of recycled oil have been seized. According to the experts, more than 3 million tons would be in circulation in China each year.

The floating pigs of Huangpu


In March 2013 more than 16000 dead pigs were removed from Huangpu, the main river of Shanghai. This river provides 22% of the water consumed by the 23 million inhabitants of the megalopolis. The pigs would have died from the so-called porcine circovirus. But in the end, it was impossible to find out who was responsible for it and this case reminded 2012 one, in which mafias were buying corpses of pigs dead from diseases and selling them as fresh meat….

The toxic rice of Hunan

In April 2013, a survey conducted in the province of Guangdong revealed that 44% of the rice contained a quantity of cadmium that was above the legal norm. Cadmium is a heavy metal among the most toxic substances listed established by the Program of the United Nations for the environment. This rice would be produced in Hunan, where rice fields are contaminated by the surrounding mining industries.

The poisoned milk


In July 2013, Fonterra, the first dairy products exporter worldwide gave public apologies after the diffusion of milk contaminated with a botulism toxin was revealed. The group provides powder products included in the making of baby food. This case awakened old fears; in 2008, milk contaminated with melamine caused the death of 6 babies, and more than 300 000 others were poisoned…

A chance for importers

Pay more to eat safely

Between inefficient sanctions and a wobbly administrative system, the polemic is only growing and Chinese consumers are more and more suspicious concerning the quality of the food they buy. And they trust less and fewer local producers…. which is a chance for importers.

Furthermore, wages have been on the rise in China and from now on, Chinese consumers are ready to pay more to provide their family with imported food, supposed to be safer.


China is expected to become the first market importation of food worldwide. Imported food is indeed a growing market currently estimated at 140 billion dollars. France has already become the first European importer country with exportation to China in constant growth, especially concerning wine, baby food, sweets, chocolate, dairy products, and juces…

Adapt to the market

But implantation in China has to be prepared. The Chinese food market is not the same as the European one. The cultural gap has an impact on what type of products the Chinese people will or will not consume, and also on the kind of message, commercial, and brand image, they will be sensitive to.

Adapt the product

Before any implantation, market research is needed, in order to decide on the branding and adapt the product and the marketing strategy in order to attract Chinese customers. And the composition of the product and the packaging are even more important that Chinese customers consider imported products as luxury ones. They are ready to pay more, but they are also quite demanding.


Adapt the communication strategy

To get people to know a brand, it is essential to adapt the communication strategy. First, the content has to reflect the brand image, but the media choosing to spread it is also important. One thing you have to know if you want to conquer the Chinese market is that Chinese people are always connected, would it be on their Smartphones, iPad or computers. They buy everything online and spend about 10 hours per week on social networks where they share opinions about the product they bought. Though, e-reputation is essential when it comes to China. And so is the digital strategy needed to make it! But to make it efficient, you have to get familiar with the Chinese network, which is very different from the rest of the world because of national censorship.

A good e-marketing strategy would include the 3 following key points

  • A good website referenced on Baidu, with an adapted ergonomy, quality content in Chinese, and an efficient SEO to make it more viewable and trustworthy.
  • An active presence on Chinese social networks, the most popular ones being Weibo and WeChat (No Facebook and no Twitter in China… ), with a good community management
  • An efficient e-PR (Press Relation) and eventually resort to KOL (Key Opinion Leaders)

If you want to know more about digital marketing in China click here.



  • albert lee

    please advise me how to advertise my products in you website?
    we supply frozen/chilled New Zealand beef and lamb

    • Olivier

      Hi Albert,

      We send you an e-mail, looking forward to hearing from you in the future!

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