Grapes of wealth – Boxi Vineyard in Pengshui

The life of a farmer is not usually regarded in terms of wealth creation. Even though farmers can be regarded as mankind’s first entrepreneurs, tilling the soil and tending to plants seven days a week until fruits or vegetables can be harvested is hard work that rarely leads to high profits. However, trading traditional crops for plants with a higher added value can mean a lot for a poor farmer or backward farming region. This applies even more to many of China’s national minorities.

Most ethnic minorities in China inhabit the less fertile regions, like deserts, or mountains whose slopes are not easy to tend. Farmers in those regions have been living on the verge of poverty for generations. The governments of various levels have been generous in providing all kind of subsidies or aid to alleviate the worst problems, but these measures are often more like a medicine to battle the symptoms, rather than a cure for the disease.

Fortunately, a number of minority farmers with an entrepreneurial spirit have taken the initiative to learn about more interesting crops and techniques to grow them on their own land. One such farmer-entrepreneur is Mr. Wang Minggang. In modern Chinese parlance, Mr Wang is a ‘rural migrant worker returned to the countryside (fanxiang chuangye nongmingong)’. He went to the big city at an early age to find his fortune. However, he found something much more valuable: techniques to make a fortune for himself and his fellow villagers. He learned about grape growing and developed the idea to grow grapes in his home region, Pengshui county of Chongqing, a minority region inhabited by Miao and Tujia people. Although Pengshui’s soil is fertile, it is a mountainous region that until recently was a few days travelling away from the nearest city. The government has greatly improved Pengshui’s accessibility by building an impressive web of roads, but that did not provide the minority farmers with a higher income.

boxigrapes

Wang Minggang started growing grapes and strawberries in his home region, the Ayi River Region of Pengshui. However, his own plot was insufficient to yield a substantial crop. He then proposed to all his neighbours to lease their land, thus increasing his vineyard considerably. In that way, his fellow villagers had a steady income and he could reach a profitable volume.

Another great idea was to start growing ecologically from the beginning. Biological fruits can be sold for a higher price, now that the urban Chinese are starting to recognise biological produce. Wang had some problems with adapting the things he had learned in northern China to the climate of his home region, but now the grapes are hanging proudly on the vines, when the harvest time is nearing. I personally visited Boxi Vineyard on September 27. The grapes were already gone, but the sight of the vines was impressive.

boxime

Many villagers rebuilt their homes, adding guest rooms that can be rented to city people who like to experience rural life for a few days. Those that choose the Ayi River Area at the time the grapes are ripe can pick a certain quantity of grapes themselves and take them home. While having fun, those urbanites can get an idea how the fruits that only knew from the way they were sold in supermarkets are actually grown by the farmers. Even though the project is still relatively young, its effect on the villagers’ lives is evident.

An interesting side effect of this enterprise is that it has introduced crops to the Pengshui region that have never been grown there before. It has contributed to the biodiversity of the region. This story so interesting, that I will post of more these stories on this blog.

Eurasia Consult Food knows the Chinese food industry since 1985. Follow us on Twitter.

Eurasia Consult Consulting can help you embed your business in Chinese society.

Peter Peverelli is active in and with China since 1975.

Tea, not only for drinking

If you ask people outside China what they believe to be the most typical of traditional Chinese food and drink, one of the top replies will be tea.

Tea remains to be popular in China as well, even among the young, who have discarded so many other traditional things Chinese as old fashioned.

Tea has been a flavour inspiration for a number of recent food launches. Tea combines flavour with nutrition. Tea is said to help lose weight and the flavones (tea polyphenol) in tea are strong anti-oxidants, which help rid the body of free radicals. Finally, tea’s tannic acid creates a specific ‘dry’ mouthfeel.

I would like to introduce a few tea flavoured foods in this post.

Tea flavoured biscuits

tfbiscuit1

These biscuits are marketed by Tianfu, one of China’s earliest nationwide tea chains. The add promises ‘a mouthful of milk flavour without a fatty taste’. As posted earlier, Chinese appreciated milk’s nutrition, but many still have problem with its creamy taste.

Ingredients: flour, butter, sugar, egg, matcha powder (1%), sodium bicarbonate.

Tea flavoured mooncakes

siweiwangteamc

Produced by Siweiwang for the Mid Autumn Festival that was yesterday. This product shows that green tea also adds colour to a food.

Ingredients outside: white beans, glutinous rice powder, sugar, syrup, vegetable oil, matcha powder, sodium dehydroxy-acetate.

Filling: lotus seeds, white beans, sugar, vegetable oil, purified water, natto, maltose, matcha powder, sodium dehydroxy-acetate.

Tea flavoured saqima

tfsachima

This is another Tianfu product. For an introduction on saqima, see my earlier post.

Ingredients: egg, shortening, maltose syrup, flour, walnut, cranberry, sugar, brown sugar, vegetable oil, cream, starch, black tea, salt.

Tea flavoured mushrooms

tfmushroom1

These shiitake mushrooms are produced in Zhangzhou (Fujian) and flavoured with white tea.

Ingredients: shiitake, vegetable oil, salt, Sichuan pepper salt, white tea.

All-tea banquet

Lianghe county of Yunnan province has created an all-tea banquet, including many dishes made from Huilong tea, a local tea from Lianghe. Here is a look of what the menu of such a banquet may look like:

  • Local chicken raised in the Huilong tea garden infused with Huilong tea.
  • Locally caught percocypris pingi, a kind of carp found in East Asia, garnished with pickled Chinese cabbage and Huilong tea.
  • Quail eggs boiled with Huilong tea and other seasonings.
  • Minced pork meatball with Huilong tea powder.
  • Huilong tea and local eggs wrapped in pea flour and deep fried.
  • Peeled black soya bean tofu stewed with minced meat, black fungus and a stock of Huilong tea.

Visitors can take a bus from Lianghe county town to the tea garden to watch the tea processing and taste the all-tea meal.

Eurasia Consult Food knows the Chinese food industry since 1985. Follow us on Twitter.

Eurasia Consult Consulting can help you embed your business in Chinese society.

Peter Peverelli is active in and with China since 1975.

China’s many capitals – regional chauvinism and food in China

The leading port of export of canned food from China is Zhangzhou – China’s Canned Food Capital (Chinese news source, 19/7/2016)

I have yet to find out when the first city in China started calling itself ‘the capital of . . .’, where … is a slot for a certain product (group), one of which that city is a national production centre. However, it now has become so important for the local economy, that it has almost become an official designation, bestowed by an industrial association.

Icons are an important aspect of the construction of social identity in Chinese culture. Chinese like to identify a famous person who they would like to become. More than a few Chinese start-up cyber-entrepreneurs are dreaming of becoming China’s Steve Jobs. Some even go as far as to try to emulate their hero’s behaviour, clothing, and speech.

In an analogous fashion, Chinese cities that are leading in a certain industry have started picking a similar foreign city, calling themselves ‘China’s …’ A city with a major car maker may call itself ‘China’s Detroit’. Unfortunately, there are several cities in China that are the home of a major automobile manufacturer, resulting in almost as many ‘Detroits of China’. So far, this has not led to conflicts between the various local governments. Detroit doesn’t care either. The city has lost most of its car-related industry and virtually turned into a ghost town.

Several posts of this blog are introducing the growing importance Chinese local governments attach to their local culinary specialties. A representative post is that about Jinhua ham. Jinhua ham is so typical for that region, that Jinhua has applied for DOC status for this product, meaning that only ham producers of Jinhua are allowed to market their ham as ‘Jinhua Ham’.

A city with a DOC-status food is likely to have a relatively large number of manufacturers of that product, and/or the top producer in that business. Instead of finding its icon elsewhere, such cities endeavour to become an icon themselves, by calling themselves ‘China’s Capital of <their typical product>’. Unlike in the case of China’s multiple Detroits, this has been a cause for chauvinist strive. As societal harmony is a top priority in China, the government has started to regulate such designation through the various sector associations. The most famous issue was giving Huhhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia the status of ‘China’s Dairy Capital’. It was initiated by Mengniu, a well-known company for the regular readers of this blog. Mengniu want Huhhot to be the first city to apply for that status, lest another city would be the first to do so. Huhhot itself was not too keen at first, but gave in at the end. Once the Dairy Association of China had recognised Huhhot as China’s Dairy Capital, no other city in China was allowed to refer to itself in that way. I am not sure if there actually is a penalty for violating this rule, but so far no other city has tried. To mark its status of China’s dairy capital, a large monument was put up in Huhhot.

MilkCapMonument

In the remaining part of this post, I will list a few of the major Chinese food capitals. This list is by no means exhaustive and I will keep adding cities, whenever I encounter them in my scanning of the Chinese information streams. Some of these have a more or less official status, i.e. they are bestowed by the relevant sector association. However, most still seem to be self-assigned. This is probably why there are several capitals for some products.

This list may turn out quite useful. If you want to know quickly were a certain food is produced in China, this list can guide you directly to a/the major region. You will have to look further (e.g. using this blog’s search engine), but this is a good start.

  • China’s ‘Canned Food Capital’: Zhangzhou (Fujian).
  • China’s ‘Dairy Capital’: Huhhot (Inner Mongolia).
  • China’s ‘Chili Capital’: Guizhou
  • China’s ‘Capital of High Quality Maize’: Siping (Jilin).
  • China’s ‘Green Tea Capital’: Emei (Sichuan).
  • China’s ‘Seaweed Capital’: Rongcheng (Shandong), Fuzhou (Fujian).
  • China’s ‘Coffee Capital’: Pu’er (Yunnan).
  • China’s ‘Beverage Capital’: Sanshui (Guangdong).
  • China’s ‘Goat Milk Capital’: Fuping (Shaanxi).
  • China’s ‘Apple Capital’: Qixia (close to Yantai, Shandong).
  • China’s ‘Kiwi Capital’: Pujiang (Sichuan).
  • China’s ‘Flour Capital’: Damin (Hebei).
  • China’s ‘Noodle Capital’: Yiyang (Hunan).
  • China’s ‘Beef & Mutton Capital’: Chifeng (Inner Mongolia).
  • China’s ‘Potato Capital’: Ulanqab (Inner Mongolia).
  • China’s ‘Lemon Capital’: Ziyang, Anqiu (Sichuan).

Eurasia Consult Food knows the Chinese food industry since 1985. Follow us on Twitter.

Eurasia Consult Consulting can help you embed your business in Chinese society.

Peter Peverelli is active in and with China since 1975.

Food and tourism in China

In an earlier post, I already introduced the Chinese eating habits on their long train rides. Food plays an even more important role in the lives of holiday makers than it is for people in their everyday lives. The most exciting things to do in foreign places is seeing unfamiliar landscapes or buildings, meeting people with different habits than yours, and enjoy the novel flavours and textures of the local food.

In recent times, gastro-economic tourism has become one of the most interesting and fastest-growing types of holidays. Moreover, it also enjoys increasing interest of researchers. Tasting local food is often considered as both cultural activity and entertainment, a necessary part of tourism experience. In addition, tasting local foods has become an important way to enjoy the local culture.

However, local foods can also be an impediment to tourist experience. Some local foods can only be accepted by mass tourists when adapted to tourists’ taste. Two natural tendencies are diametrically opposed to each other in the acceptance of novel food: fear for the new and longing for something new. The former people long to try new or unfamiliar food. Local food at a destination can bring tourists physical, cultural, social and prestige experience. Local food consumption can be seen as a supporting experience and even as a peak experience for tourists.

On the contrary, people who are afraid of unfamiliar food tend to look out for international chains or eateries offering international cuisine.

This poses challenges to popular holiday designations as regards the presentation of the local food as an attraction at the risk of potential impediment. To make local food an important attraction requires in-depth understanding of food psychology and tourists’ food preferences. It is especially important to please the palate of even the most conservative tourist.

Gastronomic tourism

The apex of experience new foods during your holiday is the gastronomic holiday, trips specially undertaken to experience the flavours of all foods and beverages a destination has to offer. Gastronomic or culinary tourism can be defined as an activity in which people participate in “other” food culture, including the preparation of food. Also, and perhaps especially, for those tourists, regions need to standardise their traditional foods, so that hotels, restaurants, travel agents and other organisations involved can introduce them properly in their promotion campaigns, ensuring that participating tourists get what they pay for. In other words, if a region decides to make its local cuisine a major tourist attraction, it needs to study that local tradition, inventorise and standardise it. To give a Chinese example: if you want to advertise dandan noodles as a representative Sichuan snack, then you cannot just serve the tourists any bowl of dandan noodles as served by a random vendor on a Chengdu street. It has to be that dandan noodles as shown in the brochures and websites, lest the finicky tourists will complain that they are not being served ‘the real thing’.

dandanmian

The reverse process

The other side of this development will be a change in that very local tradition. Once the local tourism planners have crafted standard description of the most typical local dishes, and hotels and restaurants catering to tourists from other regions have adopted those recipes, the local consumers are bound to be affected by this. Now if you feel like a proud Sichuan person, you do not just make dandan noodles at home like your mother taught you. No, you put in an effort to make the real thing, the genuine dandan noodles. The same applies to gongbao chicken, yuxiang pork, and other Sichuan dishes. Those dishes are also served by restaurants elsewhere in China and Chinese restaurants all over the world, using more or less standard recipes.

The industry follows suit

The developments described above create a market for producers of seasonings and condiments. I have reported about this in previous posts. The modern Chinese consumer is not willing anymore to spend hours in the kitchen preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner. One way to save time is using ready to use sauces bought in your local supermarket. The R&D Departments of seasoning makers can concoct a dry or wet mix of ingredients to prepare an instant dandan sauce in your own kitchen, when you wish to reproduce that great dish that you had during your holiday in Sichuan. You only have to cook the noodles and perhaps add a little of whatever you like in your noodles (for me that would be minced pork), and you can enjoy a bowl of ‘genuine’ dandan noodles in no time with no hassle of finding and mixing all those spices. Here is a randomly chosen example of such sauce.

dandansauce

Interestingly, the producer also tells potential buyers that this sauce can be used to spice up other dishes as well, like dumplings.

dandansuses

 

Food tourism as poverty relief

This post describes the relationship between tourism and food industry in about any region of the world, but China, with it rich culinary diversity is the best region to serve as an example. The rapid development of domestic tourism is also facilitating this development. Some of what used to be the poorer agricultural counties of Beijing, like Changping or Miyun, have developed agricultural day or weekend trips for the more affluent city dwellers, as a new source of income. Food is a major ingredient of such a ‘day at the farmer’ experience. Those tourists as well come with expectations as strong as those of foreign tourists. They want to experience the humble food of the countryside, but not necessarily like the farmers’ daily grub. So as a result, ‘Farmers’ Food of Miyun’ has to be designed, just like the dandan noodle for tourists.

AgriHoliday

It’s OK. The farmers in Miyun may like this new traditional foods so much, that they start eating them too, thus making it real farmers’ food. It is social constructionism at its best, and simultaneously a pleasure for the taste buds.

Food scare as driver for self-farming

I have already introduced the interest of Chinese urban dwellers in growing their own food on roof tops and balconies as a result of the food safety incidents of the past few years. Another development triggered by the food scare is the rise of self-farming. More and more urban residents rent a patch of land of suburban farm to grow their own fruits and vegetables. However, this is a not a completely economic endeavour. Taking the whole family out to your own mini-farm is also fun, and in the long run less expensive that taking the kids to an amusement park. Spending a day in the countryside, where the air is cleaner is also a bonus for the body. This has been discovered by the expat community as well, witness this picture of an outing organised by a foreign school in Beijing.

CSA

Not all such farms have been successful in transforming into tourist farms, but there are cases of these farms being turned into thriving ventures. One such is Yifendi Farm, a cooperative run by Nanyuan Village in the Fengtai district of Beijing, set up in 2009. The farm covers more than 90,000 square meters, divided into 500 allotments of 66 square meters for renting. In 2011 it established another area of more than 100,000 square meters that was given the name Little Town Farm, divided into 400 allotments of 36 square meters each. Apart from a restaurant, the farm has also built dozens of wooden houses for people to stay over, and game centers where children can play with farm animals, including peacocks, chickens and horses.

Eurasia Consult Food knows the Chinese food industry since 1985. Follow us on Twitter.

Eurasia Consult Consulting can help you embed your business in Chinese society.

Peter Peverelli is active in and with China since 1975.

Eggs – Chinese like them salty

Eggs are one of the oldest ingredients of food in China, witness the 2800-year old eggs on exhibition in Nanjing.

ancientegg

Chinese cuisine includes many dishes with eggs as the main ingredient; fried tomatoes with eggs probably being the simplest as well as the best known. Don’t forget to add a little sugar en chopped garlic, just before turning of the heat.

Eggs can also be used as a minor ingredient to add bulk and texture to a variety of dishes, sometimes as a replacement for meat.

Fresh eggs have special meaning to the Chinese. Eggs are auspicious food, a symbol of fertility, of longevity, of new life. The birth of a child is celebrated with the delivery of hard-boiled eggs to friends and relatives, often dyed a brilliant red in honour of the occasion. Eggs are also a part of the bride’s dowry, sent by her family on the wedding day to her husband’s home as a sign of her potential fertility. They reciprocate with a gift of live chickens.

Birthdays are also marked with noodles and eggs all over China, and even as an ethnic Chinese growing up abroad, I remember my grandmother making a bowl of vermicelli for me with a large egg on top, dyed bright red, of course.

However, eggs are a perishable product, which is why many rural families still keep chickens so they have a steady supply. Chinese have developed a few ways to preserve their shelf life. I am introducing three of these in this post

Pidan – 1000-year eggs

Pidan

First, let’s set straight the myth hidden in that Western term. They have not lain forgotten for 1000 years, despite the name. Instead, pidan, as they are known in Chinese, are carefully cured for several weeks to several months so that the albumen solidifies into a dark, transparent, gel-like semisolid while the yolk hardens slightly on the outside but remains molten in the centre. There are strict culinary standards on what makes a pidan a gourmet experience.

Pidan are always eaten with condiments. They may be served with sweet slices of pink pickled ginger, doused in sesame oil and vinegar, or smothered in minced garlic or chopped cilantro leaves.

The most common raw ingredient for pidan is duck eggs, valued for the size of the yolks and the generosity of the egg white. However, chicken or quail eggs are also used, but more for novelty rather than need. A good century egg often has a snowflake pattern on the outside of the white, an indication of a well-cured egg. Its fearsome colour is the result of a chemical reaction with the curing mix usually wood ash, salt and rice husks mixed with clay or lime.

Xiandan – salty eggs

Xiandan

Another popular staple is the salted egg, a pure white delight that is as visually attractive as its cousin is not.

Eggs from either chicken or duck are carefully wiped clean with Chinese liquor and placed in bottles of saturated brine. After a month to several weeks, the whites would have thoroughly absorbed the salt, and the yolks hardened into little golden globes.

Salted eggs are most often boiled and then split and eaten straight from the shell. They are also used for cooking. The salted egg yolks are vital ingredients in many seasonal foods, including the rice dumplings eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival and the sweet moon cakes during Mid-Autumn festival.

Chayedan – tea eggs

Chayedan

Tea eggs are usually prepared at home. Brew a pot of tea. You can use any Chinese tea, but a dark tea like Pu’er will taste stronger than green tea. Place the tea and tea leaves in a pot, add a piece of star anise, a stick of cinnamon and either some cloves or cardamom. Add soy sauce and enough water for the liquid to come halfway up the pot.

Wash about 10 eggs and place them in the pot to boil. After 15 minutes, remove the eggs and gently tap them to crack the shells. Turn off the heat and return them to the infusion. You want a marbled effect. The flavours and colours improve if you also break the membranes so the tea infusion can penetrate. Then wait, to allow the eggs to soak in the tea sauce for a few hours, preferably overnight. You’ll be rewarded for your patience with the most flavourful hard-cooked eggs you have ever eaten.

You can reuse the tea sauce to cook more eggs when the first batch is finished, but remember to either add more tea or soy sauce to adjust the seasoning.

Free range eggs redefined

Innovation in food is one of the core themes of this blog. A Chinese organic farmer in Taiyuan (Shanxi) has redefined the concept of ‘natural’ eggs, better known in the Western world as ‘free range eggs’. His term is ‘original eggs (tujidan)’, which he defines as ‘eggs resulting from natural insemination of the hen by a cock’. This is even more humane that simply allowing chickens to walk around freely.

Tujidan

The yolk of the resulting eggs is brighter yellow than those of mass-produced eggs and are said to be lower in cholesterol. Strictly speaking, this is not really innovation, but simply going back to basics. Still, it is a development worth pointing out.

Eurasia Consult Food knows the Chinese food industry since 1985. Follow us on Twitter.

Eurasia Consult Consulting can help you embed your business in Chinese society.

Peter Peverelli is active in and with China since 1975.

Belt and Road – Wheat and Yeast, and more

By now, the new motto of the Chinese government, One Belt One Road (OBOR), is known all over the world. Not only the national government, but also local governments in China, enterprises, and universities are rephrasing their goals and strategies in terms of OBOR. During my recent travels in China, I stumbled over an interesting story relating OBOR to the food industry.

I have already posted a number of stories featuring wheat flour in this blog, including texts focusing on flour improvers, bread, and steamed bread (mantou). This is certainly not overkill. China has been the world’s largest importer of wheat for a number of years. The import volume in the 2015-16 season is estimated at 2 mln mt, an increase of almost a third compared to the previous season.

An important reason for that increase is the growing consumption of bread in China. Chinese domestic wheat is relatively low in gluten, which is fine for traditional Chinese products like steamed bread, dumplings or noodles. Bread, however, requires wheat with a higher gluten content. China used to import such wheat from Australia, the USA and Canada, but an emerging source of high gluten wheat for China is Kazakhstan. Chinese wheat imports from Kazakhstan increased from 40,000 mt in 2010 to 250,000 mt in 2014.

KazakhFlour

The fact that China and Kazakhstan are neighbours makes them more obvious trading partners than those faraway Western nations. However, the story is more complicated, more related products are involved, in particular another essential ingredient of bread: yeast. The favourite staple of Central Asia, the nan, is also a baked product using yeast.

Yeast feeds on molasses and Xinjiang, the Chinese border region with Kazakhstan, is an important sugar region in China with 14 sugar plants producing 250,000 mt of molasses p.a. Along the region’s Uighur majority, Xinjiang is also the home of a considerable Kazakh minority. Moreover, Kazakhs and Uighurs share the same Muslim religion, so there is a mutual understanding regarding Halal food regulations. This motivated China’s top yeast producer Angel (Yichang, Hubei) to establish a subsidiary in Yining, a city in Xinjiang close the border with Kazakhstan. A considerable part of the produce of that plant is exported to Kazakhstan. According to one source, ‘Chinese yeast is a famous in Kazakhstan as Coca Cola or Marlborough’.

Angel

Meanwhile, China has started investing in the continuous supply of high gluten wheat from Kazakhstan through an intensive aid program. The country’s wheat output in 2011 was 26.9 mln mt, but was almost halved in the following year, due to severe drought. The average wheat output per hectare in Kazakhstan is about 1/5 of that in China. The Chinese authorities have organized a number of government agencies and companies to combine their expertise in helping Kazakhs to improve their wheat production. One tractor maker in Shandong has developed tractors specially geared to the conditions in Kazakhstan. Chinese experts believe that this development aid can unlock the potential of another 20 mln mt of high gluten wheat p.a. And yes, much of that will find its way to China.

Oil from Kazakhstan – from buying to producing

The Aiju Grain and Oil Industry Group (Xi’an, Shaanxi) imports cooking oil, wheat and flour from Kazakhstan. Aiju’s Chairman noted during his visit of a trade fair in Almaty in 2015 that a considerable acreage of rich arable land is left unused in Kazakhstan. Aiju is now building two factories in the region, which will process up to 1000 mt of wheat and 1000 mt of sunflower oil a day, as well as a base to plant wheat and sunflower seeds over 33 hectares. The base will be finished by 2020 and create 300 jobs. Aiju intends to bring high-efficiency planting and processing technologies to Kazakhstan, which will help with local economic development. The company also plans to start importing beef, mutton, honey and milk from Central Asia too. This includes other countries besides Kazakhstan. Bai Qinbin, deputy director of port management for the Xi’an International Trade and Logistics Park, said the city’s large transportation network can help boost trade and investment between China and countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative. “We are working on starting a service between Xi’an to Teheran this year, as the Middle East is in great need of Chinese goods, especially food and commodities for daily use.” Xi’an is one of the most important multimodal infrastructure hubs in China.

Tomatoes and more

The role of Xinjiang in the development of Kazakhstan’s food industry does not stop at wheat and yeast. Xinjiang is already the world’s largest supplier of tomato paste. One of these companies has invested in a tomato processing plant in Almaty. Chinese companies have so far offered to invest USD 1.9 bn to upgrade Kazakh food processing industry with 19 projects such as tomato, chicken and meat processing plants. According to Gulmira Isayeva, Kazakhstan’s deputy agriculture minister, Beijing’s USD 40 bn Silk Road Fund is planning investments in three projects, including one to move three tomato processing plants from China to Kazakhstan. Investments under consideration in Kazakhstan’s agriculture sector include USD 1.2 bn by Zhongfu Investment Group into oilseed processing; USD 200 mln into beef, lamb and horsemeat production by Rifa Investment; and USD 80 mln into the production of tomatoes and tomato paste by COFCO, China’s state agriculture conglomerate.

OBOR as milky way

Yili (Huhhot, Inner Mongolia; aka China’s Dairy Capital) has broken into the ranks of the world’s top 10 dairy makers in 2016, ranking 8th. The company is advertising its global strategy in terms of OBOR.

YiliOBOR

So OBOR really can create win-win situations.

Eurasia Consult Food knows the Chinese food industry since 1985. Follow us on Twitter.

Eurasia Consult Consulting can help you embed your business in Chinese society.

Peter Peverelli is active in and with China since 1975.

China’s Food Capital – Yantai

It’s getting time to highlight another important food region of China in this blog. This time I am introducing Yantai in Shandong.

Shandong province is often referred to as China’s fruit and vegetable garden and Yantai, a coastal city in Shandong, is committed to building a brand for itself as “China’s food city”. Geographically, Yantai is situated close to the Liaodong peninsula of Liaoning province, another important food production region, with a quick ferry service with Dalian, a major industrial and port city on that peninsula.

YantaiLoc

According to Zhang Yongxia, mayor of Yantai, “We are working to boost the city’s food sector by promoting food diversity and security, aiming to develop the city into a heavyweight in both China and the overseas food market”.

The food sector has always been one of Yantai’s competitive industries. The China Food Industry Association recognised Yantai as a well-known Chinese food city in 2009.

Statistics from the local government show that in 2014 revenue generated from the city’s food industry hit RMB 181 billion, an increase of 8.7% from the previous year.

There are more than 500 major enterprises doing business in the city’s food industry. These include Changyu Pioneer Wine Co, cooking oil producer Shandong Luhua Co, Shandong Longda Meat Foodstuff Co, and Shandong Oriental Ocean Sci-tech Co. All the companies play leading roles in their sectors.

Yantai has a competitive edge in 16 food sectors including fruit and vegetables, oil, meat, aquatic products, rice noodles (fensi), cake, candy, instant foods, dairy products and condiments.

The city has 27 nationally famous trademarks and 96 leading provincial trademarks in the food sector. Three brands – Changyu, Luhua and Longda – were named among China’s top 500 most valuable brands in 2014.

Food products made in Yantai are exported to more than 80 countries and regions including Russia, the United States and South Korea. According to the city’s plans, revenue generated from the food industry will reach RMB 300 billion by the end of 2017.

Home of fruits

With its favorable climate conditions and geographical location, Yantai has become one of China’s most important fruit planting, processing and exporting bases”.

The city is known as China’s hometown of fruit. Fruits produced in Yantai, such as apples, cherries, pears and grapes, are known far and wide.

Yantai apples, which were given geographic indication status by the State Quality Supervision and Inspection and Quarantine Administration in 2002, have become one of the things the city is renowned for. An important centre for apple growing is Qixia, a town Southeast of Yantai.

With a cultivating history of more than 140 years, Yantai has 181,333 hectares of apple orchards, with an annual output of 4.23 mln mt, according to statistics from the Yantai Agriculture Bureau.

The city has more than 200 varieties of apples. The brand Yantai Apple has a value of RMB 10.59 billion, the leading amount in China’s fruit industry for seven consecutive years.

With a bright color and sweet taste, Yantai apples are exported to more than 60 countries and regions with an annual export volume of 600,000 mt, accounting for one-fourth of the country’s total apple exports.

Twenty-one tons of Yantai apples were shipped from Yantai to the United States again on Nov 9, 2015. It was the first time for Yantai apples to enter the US market. As a country with strict inspection and quarantine measures, the US had previously forbidden apple imports from China for 17 years.

“As the price in the US is twice the price in Asian countries, expanding to the US market will surely promote the apple industry in Yantai and increase locals’ income,” said Bai Guoqiang, head of Yantai Agriculture Bureau.

Cherries are another well-known fruit from Yantai, where cherry trees have grown for 130 years. More than 25,000 hectares of cherry trees produce about 190,000 mt of the fruit a year. The cherries are exported to more than 60 countries and regions, including South Korea, Germany and the US.

Fruit juice

With such a variety of fruits, it is not a surprise that Yantai and the surrounding regions are a centre of fruit juice production in China. One of the country’s leading producers of apple juice concentrate, Andre, is located in Mouping, just East of Yantai.

AndreLogo

North Andre Juice Co. Ltd. was established in 1996. The company’s products include: juice concentrate, pureed and preserved fruit, fruit essences, and pectin. Since its establishment, the company has invested more than 3 billion RMB and set up 9 modern juice concentrate production bases in Shandong, Shaanxi, Jiangsu, Liaoning and Shanxi. Andre operates a total of 14 juice concentrate processing lines, 2 pectin production lines, 1 puree processing line and 1 dried fruit production line. The designed annual fruit processing products is more than 2 mln mt, and the annual juice concentrate production 340,000 mt, the annual pectin production 4000 mt and the annual puree production 10000 mt. In April 2003, Andre Juice Company went public on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, becoming the first listed company in juice concentrate industry in China.

China’s Bordeaux

At almost the same latitude as Bordeaux in France, Yantai is also considered one of the world’s top seven coastal grape-growing areas. It was named the only “international grape and wine city” in Asia by the International Office of Vine and Wine in 1987.

The city now has more than 18,000 hectares of vineyards, 11,000 hectares of which provide grapes for winemaking. It is home to more than 20 international wine businesses and a large number of domestic vintners, including the brands Changyu, Great Wall (owned by the COFCO Group) and Dynasty. Chateau Lafite Rothschild selected Penglai, a county-level city of Yantai, to develop its first vineyard and chateau in China. Penglai established a sister relationship with Australia’s Barossa, one of the world’s finest wine producing regions, on March 25.

Changyu Wine Co. is China’s oldest and largest winery. The company was founded in 1892 by Zhang Bishi. The company’s name is formed from his surname Zhang (Chang) and the Chinese character meaning prosperity. In 2002, the company entered into cooperation with Castel group in France to establish the first professional chateau in China. In 2006, the company cooperated with a Canadian company to build the largest ice wine chateau in the world near Huanlong Lake of Liaoning province. It has also expanded overseas, building Chateau Changyu Kely in New Zealand. Changyu Pioneer Wine Company is now among the ten largest wine companies in the world, producing more than 900,000 hls of wine p.a.

Changyu is constructing a Wine City, with help from the Italian wine company Illva Saronno Holding Spa. It will include a European style chateau and a Wine Research Institute. The facility has been referred to as a Disney World for Wine in a Bloomberg report.

International food expo

To further boost its food industry, Yantai holds a series of international food trade fairs and trade fairs every year.

Fruit & Vegetable Food Fair

YantaiExpo

During the 16th Fruit, Vegetable and Food Fair held in the city last month, thousands of participants from more than 10 countries and regions including Japan, South Korea and Italy came to Yantai in search of business opportunities.

The four-day event attracted organizations and companies from home and abroad to display fruits, vegetables, seedlings, food processing equipment and agricultural machinery at nearly 900 booths.

Six overseas organizations and delegations including the Japan Consul General in Qingdao participated in the fair and brought their latest developments in fruit and vegetable production and related equipment manufacturing.

Some high-tech products at the expo were particularly interesting, including irrigation equipment from Israel, Italy’s agriculture testing machines, apple-planting technology from Japan and unmanned plant protection helicopters from Shandong.

Held in Yantai every year since 1999, the event has become one of China’s most influential expos in the fruit, vegetable and food industry. It provides a sound exchange and cooperation platform for Chinese and foreign companies in the sector.

The fair’s organizers said that the event has attracted more than 1.7 million delegates from across the world during the past 15 years. This year’s event alone attracted 58,000 visitors and the trade volume hit RMB 230 million.

East Asia International Food Trade Fair

The 12th East Asia International Food Trade Fair was held in Yantai June 2 – 5, 2017. resulted in the signing of cooperation agreements worth RMB 1.60 billion. With the theme of “Green, Innovation, Cooperation and Development” attracted more than 900 enterprises from home and abroad. They brought more than 13,000 food products covering 16 categories, from imported food to time-honored Chinese products. The fair was also regarded as lucrative by enterprises from other Chinese regions. More than 100 food enterprises from Sichuan brought their products to the fair, including local liquors, pigs, tea, pickles, condiments and snacks. Exhibitors from Jilin also made appearances as a group, presenting, among other products, ginseng, forest frog’s oviducts and pilose antler, known as the “three treasures in Northeast China”. Enterprises in Harbin offered Qing’an rice, time-honoured Harbin sausages and other specialties. Co-organised to the food fair, Yantai also hosted a trade fair for Jiangxi specialties and an expo of imported maternal and child products.

Scottish Chambers of Commerce opens trade office in Yantai

The Scottish Chambers of Commerce opened an international trade office in Yantai, a Chinese port city in Shandong province May 16, 2017. The formal opening ceremony was hosted by Zhang Bo, vice-mayor of the city, together with senior officials from Yantai municipal government. The Scottish delegation was led by SCC’s new president, Tim Allan, and chief executive Liz Cameron. The Scottish Chambers of Commerce identified robotics, bioscience, manufacturing, engineering and smart technologies, agriculture, food and drink and soccer management as being areas of key interest.

Dutch university opens branch in Yantai

The University of Groningen, The Netherlands, in collaboration with China Agricultural University, plans to establish a presence on a campus in the city of Yantai. In Yantai the university plans to offer Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD programmes that incorporate significant research activities and collaboration with the business sector. TheYantai campus is located in the middle of a high-tech zone covering 38 km². It is the home of many high-end industries, companies and research institutes, providing good opportunities for top sector jobs and cooperation in the area of research. In addition, as one of China’s greenest cities. Yantai is situated in the province of Shandong, whose 97 million inhabitants offer great potential in attracting future students. Shandong province is also an important economic area in China.

Eurasia Consult Food knows the Chinese food industry since 1985. Follow us on Twitter.

Eurasia Consult Consulting can help you embed your business in Chinese society.

Peter Peverelli is active in and with China since 1975.