Consumption upgrades inside a "shopping basket"
With salaries going up across China, and the Belt and Road increasing access to Europe and beyond, more and more Chinese consumers are turning to imported goods at supermarkets.
The Sanyuanli Market, located next to the embassy district in Chaoyang District of Beijing, is one of the supermarkets across the Chinese capital which are stocking their shelves with more and more foreign groceries.
The Sanyuanli Market in Chaoyang District, Beijing. [Photo: IC]
With the development of rail technology, fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, aquatic products and even condiments from Europe and beyond are now becoming more readily available in China.
The Sanyuanli market is a popular draw for Beijing's middle class.
"There are more varieties here. My family love seafood, and we also live near here," says a consumer surnamed Cheng.
Many of the small-scale retailers in Sanyuanli are also moving toward selling more imported products, such as seafood.
Seafood is on the shelves of the Sanyuanli Market in Chaoyang District, Beijing. [Photo: IC]
"We sell mantis shrimps from Thailand, king crabs from the United States and Russia, as well as lobsters from Canada. We also have other varieties of lobsters and crabs from France, Britain and Japan," says a vendor surnamed Zhang, who owns a seafood store inside the market.
Apart from aquatic products, fruit is also a popular item at Sanyuanli among the more discerning shoppers at Sanyuanli.
The Market provides hard-to-find fruits such as American blood oranges, Chilean cherries, Mexican avocados and Japanese peaches, which provides more options, and ultimately, more money to vendors.
Fruits are on the shelves of the Sanyuanli Market in Chaoyang District, Beijing. [Photo: IC]
"In the past, the sales volumes of imported fruit used to be relatively lower, since they were not as acceptable to consumers as they are today. Domestic varieties used to account for a larger proportion of the fruits on sale, but now, more and more imported varieties have become increasingly popular among consumers," says a vendor surnamed Tian who sells fruit.
A recent survey conducted by China's Ministry of Commerce shows 86.6% of Chinese consumers with a monthly household income of more than 20,000 yuan, or over 3100 U.S. dollars, have either bought imported goods over the past year, or are planning to buy imported products this year.
Surveys have found the most popular imported products in China are food, clothing, shoes and cosmetics.
Gao Feng, spokesperson with the Ministry of Commerce, says steps are being taken to ensure people in China have more and more access to products from abroad.
"China is actively working on upgrading its industrial structure, and the consumers are looking forward to living a better life. China is willing to expand imports from countries all over the world, and also welcomes foreign enterprises to do business in China," says Gao.
Imports to China are up by 11.5% in the first half of this year.
Beyond imports of commodities such as oil, natural gas and copper, figures from China's General Administration of Customs show imports of aquatic products, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and medical supplies are also on the rise.