China food

Ben Simpfendorfer, Silk Road Associates

Walk along the chilled meat aisle in Wellcome, a Hong Kong supermarket chain, and Betagro’s pork products stand out. The company is one of Thailand’s largest poultry and pork producers exporting nearly $700m annually with the large share shipped to Europe and Japan, where buyers are attracted by not just the product’s price, but also its quality.

Indeed, it’s the latter that makes Betagro’s pork products stand out from its competitors in Hong Kong. Each package has a QR code that allows customers to trace the product’s origins right back to the farm-gate, a major attraction in a market where food health safety concerns are an increasingly big driver of consumer preferences, local and foreign. Read more

Hello China

China’s distressingly frequent food quality scandals are bad news for Chinese citizens but may be good news for UK food exports – so long as China can be persuaded to eat foods it has never eaten before, and UK food brands can adapt their traditional fare for a different kind of palate. Read more

One of the corollaries to Orwell’s famous six rules for good writing is “never use three words when two will do”.

Multinational executives would do well to heed a similar dictum when speaking off the cuff in China: never use a particular five-word phrase when one word will do instead. Read more

Product recalls can often cause havoc with individual companies – just ask Toyota. But it’s rare that such an event can send shockwaves through an entire economy.

Yet that seems to be the case with China’s decision to recall milk powder imported from New Zealand over concerns that some of it could contain bacteria that causes botulism. Read more

Yum Brands may be the leading company in the Chinese fast food market with over 5700 outlets, but recently it has seen a sharp decline in sales in the country.

Although Yum has suffered from headline-grabbing food scares (bird flu and banned antibiotics), are there bigger structural shifts afoot in Chinese fast food? Chart of the week takes a look. Read more

Most people probably don’t think Spam lunchmeat and Skippy peanut butter make a good pairing.

But Hormel Foods, maker of the canned curiosity, begs to differ. The Minnesota-based company on Thursday said it would acquire the Skippy peanut butter business from Unilever for $700m – the largest deal in the company’s history. Among the rationales for the move? China. Read more

How do you say “burger wars” in Mandarin?

Because that is what China’s ever growing number of cash-rich, time-poor diners can expect to see after Burger King on Friday announced an ambitious plan to take on rival McDonald’s in one of the world’s fastest growing fast-food markets. Read more

Cars, computers, now food. Until Bright Food bought the British cereal maker Weetabix last month, the “food and beverage” category had yet to join in the trend of Chinese consumer companies making western acquisitions.

But as the growth prospects in the food market go down, and the competition in the market intensifies, the cereal deal may mark a turning point for the Chinese food industry. Read more

Not many people in the western world eat Chinese food for breakfast. Until now. On Wednesday Bright Food announced it had bought 60 per cent of Weetabix Foods, parent of the famous British breakfast cereal of the same name.

According to the company, this is the largest outgoing Chinese acquisition in the sector. Read more

Just another week in the life of a Chinese housewife: first it was yogurt made from old shoes, then tea tainted with pesticides and now comes news that even the sacred xiaolongbao – small steamed dumplings, the signature dish of Shanghai – may be harbouring dangerous additives. Read more