Matthew Crabbe
Matthew is Mintel Trends Regional Director, Asia-Pacific. He and his team provide insights and analysis on the latest market developments and consumer trends across the region.


Another China issue that has resurfaced in the global news has been food scares. This is a subject that Mintel is very familiar with, having already published its “Consumer Lifestyles: Food Scares – China – September 2012”, and has an update report forthcoming in August 2013. Also to resurface are reports that Chinese consumers are increasingly using home food testing kits to protect themselves.

Leading grocery retailers have also been stepping up their food testing. Mintel reported in its report “Supermarkets and Hypermarkets – China – June 2013”, that Wal-Mart announced plans this April to invest RMB 100 million in new food safety measures over three years, including establishing mobile food safety test laboratory cars costing RMB 2 million each, and ‘quick-investigation’ rooms in many stores to carry out spot checks on foods.

But more fundamental is the ongoing process of structural change in the food growing and processing industries in China. Already China is trying to shift from small-scale subsistence farming towards industrial scale farming, with its improved efficiencies and accountability. Recent economic planning changes are also aiming at reducing overproduction and inefficiency in China’s small and medium sized business sectors. China is trying to encourage companies to rise up the value-added ladder, and improve quality, simultaneously making it harder for those companies that cut corners and jeopardise safety, to go bust.

Of course, such restructuring a food industry involving tens of thousands of companies, in a country as large as China, is going to take time. But, it is moving in the right direction. And in the meantime, someone is going to make a lot of money selling food testing kits to concerned consumers.