China Overtakes the US as the World’s Largest Grocery Market

April 4, 2012Chinaby EW News Desk Team


China may be the world’s second largest economy behind the United States, but a recent industry report shows that the East Asian giant is already the world’s largest market when it comes to grocery spending. According to researchers IGD, China collectively spent $970 billion at the supermarket last year, $60 billion more than the US.

In a sign of how quickly China’s middle class as grown, the Chinese grocery sector is now worth $970 billion dollars, tripling in value between 2006 and 2011.

According to grocery industry researchers IGD, the Chinese grocery market will reach $1.6 trillion in 2015, taking into consideration projections by the Chinese government that the economy will cool to around 7.5 percent growth in the next few years.

IGD also estimates that international grocery chains are expected to open more than 2,700 stores in China over the next four years, or 13 stores a week.

In contrast, the United States grocery market, which includes the sales of the world’s largest retailer Walmart, was worth $909 billion in 2011.

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IDG chief, Joanne Denney-Finch said:

China’s grocery growth story is phenomenal. Despite its various logistical and bureaucratic challenges, China is a crucial growth market for many of the world’s largest grocery retailers. Even beyond the major cities there are huge opportunities. Forecasts suggest there will be over 200 Chinese cities with a population of over a million by 2025.

She added that China’s rapid expansion is being driven by China’s growing economy, the rising wealth of its population and inflationary food prices.

Speaking to the Guardian, Andrew Sentence, senior economic adviser with PricewaterhouseCoopers, said that China will overtake the United States ‘on a number of indicators’ over the next decade, given that more than 50 percent of the world’s population lives in that region.

Sentence added:

This reflects a broader shift in the global economy to the Asia Pacific region. Asia Pacific is going to be dominant in the world economy looking ahead. The negative is that this is putting a lot of upward pressure on energy and commodity prices.

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However, nutrition experts are warning that the grocery boom brings mixed blessings for China’s population – many parts of rural China persistently suffer from malnutrition while urban areas are increasing being served with less healthy convenience foods.

Food safety expert at the World Health Organisation, Peter Ben Embarek said:

Obesity is already growing in the younger generation in big cities.

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