Chinese consumers are increasingly seeking organically produced food amidst ongoing food safety concerns. Over the last seven years, a series of high-profile food safety scandals have rocked the nation. An increasingly prosperous, young and growing urban consumer base is instrumental in driving demand. While organic sales currently only account for 1.01 percent of total food consumption, that’s nearly triple 2007’s 0.36 percent. And demand is expected to grow to 2% of the nation’s gate value in 2015.
Food safety is not the only factor driving demand; a growing concern on health and diet is also contributing to desire for organics. The trend is also providing economic opportunities for smaller scale and younger farmers, such as Zhu Xun, to gain entry into markets.
Food scandals inspired Zhu Xun, CEO of Beijing-based farm Noah Organic, to start his own business. Speaking to CNBC, Zhu described how he and a friend began selling organic produce for up and coming Chinese concerned about safety. “My friend and I wanted to eat healthier. When we eat at restaurants, we don’t know where the vegetables and the meat come from.”
Organics are not inexpensive; they may cost up to five times the amount of non-organic products. But that doesn’t appear to be dampening interest.