EU food products set to tickle Chinese palates
Updated: 2011-04-01 10:56
By Eric Jou (China Daily European Weekly)
Lamberto Gancia, managing director of Italian wine maker Gancia, checks a bottle of wine at a supermarket in Shanghai. Provided to China Daily
Nation likely to increase imports of European agricultural products with Protected Geographical Indications
Buoyed by the strong growth in agricultural exports, the European Union is now taking steps to further cash in on the rising demand for high-end food products in China.
That China has an appetite for such products was evident from the strong interest shown by visitors for French cheese, Italian ham, Portuguese wines, Czech vodka and other specialty agricultural products from Europe at a recent exhibition in Beijing.
The EU's keenness to cement agricultural ties with China was also evident when it sent a high-level team led by the EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Dacian Ciolos to China for talks on March 21-25 .
EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Dacian Ciolos says China is the next great market for European goods. Gao Erqiang / China Daily
The delegation held discussions with their Chinese counterparts on a host of issues, but most of the talks pertained to trade protection issues and the need to step up imports of European agricultural products with Protected Geographical Indications (PGI).
A PGI is a World Trade Organization label that guarantees a product has been produced either entirely or partly in a given geographical area with recognized techniques.
"China is an increasing market, not only in terms of the quantity of products but also in terms of the growing demand for quality products. It is a great opportunity for the agricultural food sector in the EU," says Ciolos.
Terming China as "the next great market for European goods", Ciolos hopes that China will increase its appetite for PGI and Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) goods as they are backed with safety and quality assurances.
According to Ciolos, Europe has more than 3,200 registered food, wine and spirits products that have been granted special status as Geographical Indications. Only the food connoisseurs know most of these products, he says.
"I hope that our visit will help change this perception," says Ciolos .
The delegation visited Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou, and showcased several exotic products such as Bavarian beers and Scottish meats.
Aside of the food promotions, the team also held talks with officials, restaurants, groceries, stores and universities to help better understand the Chinese market, its people and preferences.
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The trip also marked the conclusion of the 10 plus 10 pilot project between the two regions. Under the project, 10 PGI products from the EU will gain access to the Chinese market, while 10 protected Chinese foods will go on sale in the EU.
West Farm House
"The best way to promote quality food products trade is through Geographical Indications. GIs are a way for the small and large farmers to work together and to protect and promote products that are region-specific," says Ciolos.
"Consumers like it as it assures quality taste and wholeness. They also like it because of its strong linkages with local traditions. It also adds to the pleasure of the food and makes the products attractive," he says.
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