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These forecasts were released by SACE, the insurance-financial group active in the export credit and investment protection, in 189 countries worldwide. SACE's study has highlighted the change in Chinese food preferences, becoming more westernised. Products like pasta, Parmesan and olive oil are becoming part of the daily diet of people, especially for those belonging to upper-medium classes.
Furthermore, the increase of Chinese tourism in Italy will foster a direct contact between Italian cuisine and consumers, who will then want to find similar options once they go back to their homeland. The Chinese government, on its side, is playing an active role to simplify the bureaucratic procedures to let new importers and distributors in the country.
SACE hypothesizes two possible opportunities for Italian companies. Firstly, they would take advantage of the new food habits of Chinese wealthy population, increasing the export of finished high quality food products. Secondly, Italians would provide machines to transform raw materials in countries exporting primary goods in China.
To date, the main exported product is wine (about 23% of total export), followed by chocolate (22%) and baked products (10%). With regard to olive oil, it represents only 7% but makes Italy the first world exporter after Spain. Other products, such as meat and diaries, still have a small impact but ready to grow.
The development of the Chinese food market depends on the logistic infrastructures supporting the distribution network, today well developed around the big cities. Nonetheless, the online sector is also doing very well. The amount of consumers shopping for food online is growing very much and e-commerce giants, such as Alibaba, are making the most out of it.