Shanghai International Children-Baby-Maternity Industry Expo (17 - 19 July, 2013)
On 18th July, ATO Shanghai staff attended the largest annual B2B sourcing event for children, baby and maternity products worldwide. The show boasted twelve exhibition halls hosting over 2,100 brands, 1,400 exhibitors, and 60,000 visitors, including buyers, manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers in the industry. It also featured international pavilions from countries such as Australia, Italy, Korea, New Zealand, Spain, and Taiwan. While the United States did not have a formal pavilion, there were several top-quality American companies at the show such as organic baby/family food producers Happy Family, Plum Organic, and Friendly Organic. Several U.S. non-food related brands were represented at the show including Belly Armor by RadiaShield and Prince LionHeart.
Regarding baby formula, exhibitors felt the need to differentiate themselves from similar, competing brands. As a result, exhibitors used unique, aggressive marketing techniques and advertisements to set themselves apart. A large proportion of baby formula brands hired foreign models or provided gimmicky performances in an attempt to assert their quality over competing Chinese brands. Another strategy used by Chinese baby formula companies was to register their company abroad, thus allowing them to market locally produced formula with a foreign label. The process concerned non-Chinese formula exhibitors when asked, as these self-proclaimed foreign brands can advertise cheaper products as ¡®premium¡¯ imported foods. ATO Shanghai also spent some time with Goobay, a China based distribution company, which represents multiple brands from the US (such as Plum and Friendly), Canada, and Korea. Along with HappyFamily, Goobay expressed concerns over the process of registering its products as ¡®organic¡¯ by the new Chinese regulatory standards. Imported formula products from New Zealand had a noticeably strong presence at the show, with many companies providing ¡®organic¡¯ foods to rival those of some US producers. Almost every imported formula distributor we spoke to mentioned that they do the vast majority of their sales through traditional brick-and-mortar outlets, like high-end supermarkets, hypermarkets, and mother/baby specialty shops. When asked whether they were looking to expand into online sales, many brands mentioned that they think the online market for baby food is still underdeveloped, but shows potential.
For pictures of the event, please see the USDA China Flickr account.