How can international Food (& FMCG) Groups find distributors in China?

China accounts for about one-fourth of the total world population and hosts one of the most rapidly developing consumer markets in the world, which provides a tremendous boost to the food & beverage industry. In recent years China’s demand for foreign food& beverage products is growing steadily as the standard of living in China improves. The European Union remains China’s largest supplier of food, followed by the United States, New Zealand, Indonesia, and Canada. Meat, oil, dairy, and seafood are among the most popular food imports in China.

The Chinese distribution network is very fragmented

Distribution networks in China usually involve six or seven steps before reaching the final seller. Wholesalers sell to an unstructured network of distributors, resellers, and other wholesalers. Chinese contract laws sometimes provide for exclusivity and non-competition clauses, which may not be respected as they often leave it to interpretation.

Wholesalers often rely on distributors for the actual work of delivering and selling the product. These ad hoc distribution channels, however, provide for a superficial control of the goods, justified by the low-profit margins, which consequently lead to a limited final number of sales.

Read as well: Guide to Exporting Food to China

Step one: International Food Groups need to be present on the Internet in China

Nowadays a company willing to enter the Chinese market must be able to understand how Chinese buy and which channels are their favorite if they want to be successful.

Understanding the preferences and mindset of consumer groups is crucial to successfully expanding a food brand into China and here are the key points to better understand it. The Internet is nowadays the main source of information when it comes to checking food brand information.

A Chinese consumer, but also a distributor, must be able to find you on Baidu, the Chinese most used search engine.

Some easy steps to take before looking for a distributor for your food group

In order to find reliable distributors, it is important to:

  • Have a Chinese friendly website, hosted in China or near China (so your content will be uploaded quickly);
  • Be present in social media, such as Wechat, Xiaohongshu, Zhihu in order to build a good relationship with them, communicate with them, and listen to their expectations and what they really need;
  • Build an e reputation;
  • Engage your customers in your products awareness

Deep Dive into Solution For International Food Group in China

Baidu SEO is essential for International food Group in China

You’ll ask me why? Well, the answer is easy, just as you don’t open the dozen of spammy emails your receive from random companies trying to sell you the “best quality olive oil in the world”, Chinese distributors don’t do it either.

In fact, the use of email in China is barely a thing. But let say, your brand managed to catch the attention of food distributors in China (maybe via social media, food fair, word to mouth), the first step taken will be to “Baidu” the name of your company to find more information and decide if you look legit.

Balance Water Brand - GMA Client in China
Balance is an Australian Water Brand that works with GMA in order to find a distributor in China. With our help building brand awareness, they are on their way to selling on Tmall, with a Tmall Partner that judges the brand to be worthy of their investment.

After deciding if you are a real company, selling agents will dig deeper to see if your products are in one way or another already sold in China if netizens are talking about you on the internet.

Chinese Social Media is a place to Thrive for international Food Company


WeChat for food companies can be seen as an email & community management marketing tool.

Wechat Brochure:

Show off your product in a beautifully designed H5 Wechat Brochure. Light and easy to share they are ideal for your product listing and to reach out to distributors. When joining Food Fair, having a QR code that allows people to access your Wechat Brochure is a must and tells much about your understanding of China to a potential partner.

Abrau Estate, Russian Wines Seller by GMA. The company after investing in improving its e-reputation and brand awareness is on its way to start selling online.
Wechat Service Account:

The equivalent of email marketing but with more advanced options. 4 times a month share your content to neuter your follower. But also:

  • Set up a menu to guide your follower.
  • Create a mini-program to entertain/ facilitate taking actions such as buying your products
Wechat Group Marketing:

Wechat groups are an effective way to grow your presence on WeChat. Wechat being a close social media, joining and managing as many groups as possible is the most cost-efficient way for you to gain followers.

Use Kols to build your reputation and attract distributors

In China recommendations mostly come from locals because Chinese people mostly trust Chinese people. Word of mouth in China is the key, that’s why it is important to develop a Kol marketing strategy.

KOL or Key Opinion Leaders are people with strong influential power in a group of society. Chinese KOL is particularly powerful. There are many types of KOL from stars to micro-influencer and also many fakes. Our agency has a dedicated KOL team as well as a KOL partnership to help you find your perfect match.

Lesieur on Weibo via Kol - Work by GMA
With our client Lesieur (French Condiment Brand), we decided to go omnichannel. Seo & PR, Social Media & Kols. The brand is now running a successful Tmall Store

They use different Apps: Weibo, Douyin, WeChat, Youku, Meipai, Douban, Xiaohongshu. A KOL can write a review of your product/service. It can be a dedicated article, a paragraph in an article, a video, or a short video.

Take part in trade fairs to find a distributor for your food group

The simplest answer to the question “Why attend a trade show in China?” is that if you want to sell in China you have to participate in a fair to be known in the market. Participating in fair favor your presence in China much more. Precisely because the Chinese market is so vast and complicated, this helps you to select and meet reliable business partners for your business.

For example, if you are an ice cream brand, this is fair for you. Ice Cream China, also known as China International Ice Cream Industry Exhibition, will take place from 12-14 October in Tianjin at the Meijiang Convention & Exhibition Center.

It is an international fair dedicated entirely to the ice cream and frozen products industry. It represents an excellent commercial meeting platform for suppliers and buyers from the entire value chain.

Contact an agency to find a distributor for your food group

An agency like Gma can help you in all the process to make your products famous.

We can:

  • Help with Seo, Sem, Content Marketing, Recommendations;
  • Localize your content marketing;
  • Provide an H5 Wechat Brochure, which is an electronic brochure that is easy to share on WeChat. It contains the listing of products (in Chinese);
  • Help using Lead Generation, Lead Generation is the set of marketing actions that aim to acquire and generate interesting contacts. Drawing up a list of contacts is possible through a careful lead generation strategy, which can use advertising and acquisition tools.

Distributors can help you with Chinese regulations

Since food regulations in China are very strict, distributors can provide support in monitoring regulatory updates in your food industry, both locally and nationally, and in collecting market data. They are actually your eyes and ears in China.

A distributor buys your products and sells them to customers through a third party or directly. Using a distributor can also be a cheaper and relatively easier way to enter the Chinese market.

However, it is not recommended to have just one distributor for all of China. Not only is covering the entire market a very difficult thing (in reality, there are only a few companies that can claim to have a distribution network that covers all of China), but you will also be completely in the hands of your exclusive partner.

Tmall B2B: A viable option for international Food group in China

Once you will have a reputation on the internet, Tmall distributors will start to look for you.

Tmall B2D is a platform where you can connect with 85,000 Chinese distributors. Tmall B2D gives brands great visibility on the current market. It can:

  • Manage service and logistics
  • Manage distributor
  • Conduct secure payments


gma agency

Do you want to know more about How to use digital marketing to increase your success in China? Contact GMA a digital marketing agency, specialized in the Chinese digital market.

Read more about Food & Drink Distribution in China:

Leave the first comment