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Chinese willing to Pay for safety

Release Date

19 April 2013

Food safety is a growing concern for the Chinese in recent years. Items like ink, dye, bleach, wax and other toxic chemicals have been discovered in Chinese food products. The saying “Eating Chinese food products is just like biting into periodic table of elements” is supported by the array of chemicals found in Chinese food products. The sheer number of companies involved in China’s food industry is a significant obstacle for regulators and makes it difficult for them to perform the necessary quality control checks.
One of the most shocking food-safety scandals in China was the toxic infant formula issue in 2010. 76 tons of melamine-tainted milk products were recently seized, just two years after melamine-adulterated formula killed six infants and hospitalised thousands more.
Chinese customers have now lost confidence in domestic products, leading to bulk purchases from countries such as Australia, New Zealand and America. The issue was so great that the baby aisle shelves in Australian supermarkets were emptied by Chinese visitors.
As shown in the table below the number of tweets on the topic of ‘food safety’ showed a sharp upward trend. Consumer behaviours like buying insurance, buying organic food at a higher price and posting on micro blogs about food safety catapulted “Pay for Safety” to be the number one ranking trend on a popular Chinese Microblog  for 2013.

(Data source: CIC social media research database
Note: Number of tweets = Total number of related tweets from Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo)
After repeated food safety issues, shoddy workmanship and fake products, Chinese consumers are now willing to pay a premium for a sense of safety in their consumption. With a strong import and export relationship between Australia and China anyone in the food products industry would be wise to investigate how their business can add value to the Chinese market.
If you would like to discuss how to effectively leverage the food safety epidemic in China contact Sara Cheng, Manager, Greater China on 1800 505 529 or via email

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