Managing director Reg Weine has told FoodNavigator-Asia that its premium Goulburn Valley 700g fruit range, SPC snack cups and pouch ranges, and IXL jam would be the first products to enter stores.
SPC’s snack cups are already available on online retailer JD.com and Weine said the full range of SPC, Goulburn Valley and IXL products will progressively be available across major online and offline retailers in China.
In end-January, SPC finalised an agreement with China State Farm Agribusiness (CSFA) Shanghai to export SPC, Goulburn Valley and IXL lines of processed fruit products to China.
CSFA Shanghai, a wholly-owned subsidiary of China National Agriculture Development Group Corporation — one of China’s largest agribusiness conglomerates — will be “master distributor” of SPC’s brands and product lines in China.
“It takes significant time and resources to build brands in overseas markets, which is why we are partnering with China’s leading agricultural firm. Their enviable track record of successfully bringing premium foreign brands to China is very attractive to us,” said Weine.
Marketing to middle class
He added that CSFA Shanghai had the dedicated personnel and sales and marketing support that SPC needed to build its brands, as well as the distribution capability to reach China’s burgeoning middle class.
At the signing ceremony, he said, “It’s about taking our market-leading brands into markets where provenance plays a part and there is a large enough consumer segment that is affluent and willing to pay a premium for Australian produce.”
To this end, they have engaged Chinese singer and actress Ye Yiqian, who as a “deep connection with aspirational Chinese consumers” to be brand ambassador.
Weine confirmed that the exported fruit products will be available in over 4,500 premium retail and mother and baby stores, which he said will provide a considerable market for the company’s products.
“We will have a strong presence in bricks-and-mortar retailing — including Alibaba’s HEMA retail outlets, Ole supermarkets and mother and baby chain Kidswant,” he said.
Initially, they will be in China’s tier one cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Tianjin, and later will include Shenzhen and Chongqing.
The products will also be carried by leading e-commerce platforms such as such as JD.com, Kaola, and Alibaba’s T-Mall.
Said Weine, “This hopefully will only be the beginning of our relationship with Chinese consumers.”
He emphasised that China represents a significant business opportunity for SPC in the years ahead, with its processed fruit market five times that of Australia.
Among further plans for expansion, Weine said SPC’s ProVital, functional and fortified fruit products in accessible packaging, will also appeal to China’s ageing population.
In the vast Asia Pacific region, aside from China, SPC already exports to Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Pacific islands and the Middle East.
In February, SPC will also be launching its Perfect Fruit frozen fruit whip dessert in India and, shortly after, to Japan as well.
Coca-Cola Amatil-owned SPC is the largest producer of premium packaged fruit and vegetables in Australia, processing about 150,000 tonnes of fruit a year. Its products include processed and packed fruit, vegetables, spreads and jams, prepared meals, snack foods, sauces and condiments.
CSFA Shanghai already has established business relationships with several Australian companies including A2 Milk and Stanbroke Premium Beef. The company will organise staff and carry out sales and marketing to build SPC’s product brands in China.