BioFach China celebrated its 5th edition May 26-28 with an additional 14% exhibition space and 9% more exhibitors at the Intex Exhibition Center in Shanghai. This year’s event featured products from 350 exhibitors, including an Italian pavilion and firms from Austria, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Switzerland. Companies from Australia, India, Malasya and even Nepal were also exhibiting at BioFach China this year. “The fair was interesting and the commitment from the Chinese government supporting initiatives to increase environmental awareness impressive”, said Javier Hurtado CEO of Irupana Andean Organic Food, a Bolivian leading exporter of Royal quinoa. “ Stores are selling plastic shopping bags if consumers don’t bring their own , at restaurants the paper napkins are not easily given away and at airports there is a reuse-reduce campaign offering water in glass bottles for free“. Development of China’s market for organic products began in the mid-2000s and as result of the food scandals has expanded very rapidly in the past few years. “BioFach China was much larger and better attended this time”, said Karleen Reeve of New Zealand based brokers’ firm Organic Andes and international business development manager for Irupana. “There were familiar faces from last year, with some Chinese organic businesses clearly growing, but also a high turnover of stands”. Coffee was among the top selling products. “It is still a luxury item, but sales are bigger than ever”. Organic foods have also displaced tobacco and alcohol as luxury gifts.

Although statistics on organic production in China vary from source to source, it is estimated that in 2005 there were around 1,600 organic certified firms, 2,500 in 2007 and 3,500 in 2009. According to a recent report from the International Trade Center there were 2.03 million hectares of certified organic farmland in China in 2009.

The global financial crisis slowed down exports of organic products to Europe and North America, regions that receive over 80 percent of organic imports. This reduced export margin has forced exporters from developing nations to look for South-South trade in countries like Brazil, India and China. Chinese imports of organic foods were about US$ 20 million in 2009, still a limited amount, but the market has been growing rapidly. Main organic consumers in China are foreigners and emerging high-income professionals and parents with small children who are concerned about nutrition and pesticides in food. Organic products are significantly more present in the media, according to Crane Fan, new Managing Director of NürnbergMesse China. “Television, radio and newspapers are increasingly occupied with the issue,” said Mr Fan in a release. Crane Fan took the place of Axel Bartkus in January, who returned to Germany as head of the Asia Team International Sales & Business Development for NürnbergMesse.“There are not many importers of large volumes of organic food yet “, notes Hurtado. “Most imports are finished goods from the USA, Europe and Australia, which in part explains the higher retail prices for organics in China and Hong Kong”.

BioFach China was one of the three food fairs taking place in China during May, but the only one specialized in organic foods, supplements, cosmetics and other non food goods, and with an international influence. There are market opportunities in China for exporters of goods at reasonable prices, but also for those selling high quality baby foods, coffee, gourmet foods, tropical fruits, super foods, healthy snacks and cosmetics.