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Tapping the Canadian Advantage in Hong Kong

Hong Kong presents huge opportunities for Canadian farmers and the agri-food industry, according to this brief composition from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.


September 5, 2008
By Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

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September 4, 2008

The rising towers of Hong Kong represent a dynamic force drawing trade to the island’s industrious economy.


This energetic city of more than seven million people is a major trading and financial centre, a gateway to the People’s Republic of China and a hub for other Asian nations where Canadians may have an inside edge on food and agriculture trade.

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Almost three percent of the population, about 200,000 people, is Canadian, according to the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada. Their influence has given the people of Hong Kong a sound knowledge and understanding of Canadian products.


“Research conducted for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) indicates that Hong Kong consumers are more familiar with Canadian products than those from the United States,” said Janice Vansickle, Executive Director of Branding Management at AAFC. “They are willing to buy Canadian and, with dedicated effort, receptive to the image of Canada and Canadian food products.”


In 2007, Canada provided almost three percent of Hong Kong’s food and agriculture imports and is the 10th-largest source of such imports. A greater share stands to be earned.


Hong Kong consumers are among the richest in Asia with an average per capita income exceeding $27,500 (US, 2006). Western-style foods are a growing part of a diet that is also trending toward microwaveables, pasta, wines, meats and organic foods.


Canadian food and agriculture export trade to Hong Kong in 2007 increased 21.5 percent over 2004 to $443.4 million (Cdn). Ginseng root, raw mink fur skins, geoduck (pronounced gooey duck), frozen boneless beef and canola oil marked the way.


Seafood exports alone reached $93 million (Cdn) led by geoducks, Stimson’s clams, live lobsters, oysters and other molluscs.


Officially referred to as the Hong Kong Special Administration Region, Hong Kong is prime territory for Canadian exports because only 5.05 percent of the Region’s 1,042 square kilometres of land area is arable.


However, that does not necessarily mean easy access to the market. Exporters wanting to position products on the island and beyond must cultivate relationships with brokers headquartered in Hong Kong.


As well, there are consolidators and import agents, hoteliers and restaurateurs, and retailers of all sizes along the food and agriculture distribution chain with whom successful relations must be built.


“Hong Kong is unique and requires specific promotional strategies to merchandise Canadian food and agriculture products and promote the positive attributes of the Canada Brand,” said Vansickle. “Companies wanting to tap into the economy should find the research helpful in determining what influences food-buying consumers.”


Detailed research on the Canadian advantage in Hong Kong is available to Canada Brand usage- agreement signatories. Detailed information on membership and branding Canada’s food and agriculture sector in international markets is available at www.brandcanada.agr.gc.ca.


TNS Canadian Facts was contracted by AAFC to collect data from Hong Kong consumers between May 10 and May 16, 2007. Under contract, IE Market Research analyzed the data and developed strategic recommendations on how to best position Canadian food and agri-food products with Hong Kong consumers.


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