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Sweets demand fuelling hike in China's sugar imports, USDA

By Jane Byrne , 29-Apr-2010

Products such as confectionery, biscuits and juice products are experiencing double-digit growth in China with this consumer demand fuelling an increase in the country’s sugar imports, according to a USDA report.

China's sugar imports, traditionally around the one million tonnes mark, are forecast to rise to 1. 5 million tonnes in 2010-11, states a report from the US Department of Agriculture's Beijing office.

According to the publication, growth in sugar consumption is mostly attributed to the rapidly growing processed food and beverage sectors.

China’s economy has grown apace in the last few decades, and the food and drink sector has seen a boom in output – with 150 per cent growth between 2004 and 2008. Especially in the urban hubs where many have more disposable incomes, there has been a general shift in shopping habits towards Western style foods bought in grocery stores rather than markets.

Domestic sugar output was hit by drought in cane areas in the current season but prospects look better for next year with the cane producing areas experiencing heavy rainfalls, said the USDA.

A report from Leatherhead Food Research, Global Players in the Confectionery Industry, published last autumn forecasts that growth in global chocolate sales will in the main be generated by the developing world in places such as Africa and the Middle East, and particularly in China and India.

‘In many of these regions, chocolate is less of an established product, since both the warm climates and an underdeveloped infrastructure have traditionally hampered sales.

‘However, chocolate confectionery is gaining acceptance amongst the more affluent consumers in these regions, especially within younger age groups, where it is becoming popular as a snack,” said the researchers.

In 2009, Koelnmesse, the organisers of the Sweet China trade event, which was set up in conjunction with the National Candy Association, said the growth forecasts for the Chinese confectionery market continue to offer encouraging investment opportunities for multinational sweet makers.

Citing official figures from China, the event organisers claim that the national confectionery industry has increased, on average, at a rate of 12.85 per cent for the last five years, six per cent above global growth over the same period.

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