On my recent trip to Shanghai, a visit to a new shopping mall, Joy City, convinced me that natural and organic products were set to grow rapidly in the Chinese market. Two new sales outlets have come up:
- An Organic+ boutique offering European organic beauty brands (Weleda, SoBio, Patyka, Planet Kid, and others). There are currently about ten Organic+ boutiques in China. The creator of the chain, Edward Lu, explained that the increase in health hazards for the Chinese (air pollution, food adulteration, etc.) is fast turning them towards natural and certified products. In fact, during the month of January, the press was filled with alerts concerning the quality of air in Beijing and also Shanghai, presented the target of 10% in green buses in Shanghai by 2015, and denounced food scandals.
- The COFCO (food and housing) conglomerate has set up an outlet selling natural products – offering assurances in terms of origin (production area), and quality certification (ISO 9001 / HAACP) ("Good Pomegranate / Good Region / Good Techniques / Standardized management). All products are sold under its own brand name (which did not exist as such until now). As Patrick Yu, its CEO, says: "The core objective of COFCO's industry-chain development roadmap is to solve the problem of food safety, a problem which is the biggest headache for customers now".
These two initiatives clearly illustrate that the Chinese market is maturing very quickly and has some surprises in store for us – both in beauty and food distribution.