China: Nation of emerging foodies

Check out this interesting nugget in the Irish Times. According to writer Clifford Coonan, Chinese consumers are developing a taste for high-class European foods–something that will benefit nations like France:

“China is a country obsessed with food, and the primary social activity is a noisy, chatty feed with friends. Chinese food is terrifically varied, sophisticated, occasionally challenging and generally incredibly delicious.

A common greeting in this country is ‘have you eaten?’ But some international staples don’t even figure. Dessert is not a feature of Chinese cuisine and, because of the number of courses, wine has tended to be nudged out by beer or fiery baijiu liquor, especially at banquets.

But while they were sceptical initially, Chinese people are coming around to the idea of eating cheese. And chocolate. And breakfast cereal. Even to the idea of drinking wine. Growing wealth has translated into an expanding middle class, and this new bourgeoisie wants European cheeses and New and Old World wines.”

French grocery chains, take note: The US Association of Food Industries believes China will become the largest consumer of imported foods by 2018, with a market worth €60 billion.

According to Coonan, it’s definitely been noticed. He writes:

“France is aggressively marketing its wines to take advantage of the growing sophistication of Chinese tastes.

The agriculture ministry has promised 400 types of wine from 12 regions all over France will land in China in batches over the next three years, and it is also keen to help educate people about wine with a campaign to include tastings for importers, distributors, cellar owners and chefs.

Chateau Lafite, Pernod Ricard SA and Moët-Chandon have invested in planting vineyards in China, aiming to produce quality wines and develop their brands in what is expected to become the world’s largest wine-consuming market.

The campaign includes France’s 12 wine regions and China is the fifth biggest importer of French wine both in terms of volume and value. The value of wine France exported to the mainland increased by 75.5 per cent last year.”

What do you think? Does the future of French wine and cheese lie in China?

Read more about France, America, China and the world beyond in the latest edition of Carnet Atlantique!

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