Xi'An Green is just starting to make its first tentative steps into the eastern Europe market, ahead of plans to capture the domestic markets. With the rapid development of the domestic market general manager Jie Gu expects says that eventually that situation will start to change.
"Our products are niche and many of their applications are still relatively new to the market, even in the more advanced western markets," said Gu. "We have grown our business entirely from its development in north America and western Europe, but that is set to change as other developing markets become increasingly advanced and more sophisticated in consumers' desires for processed foods."
Xi-An is a supplier of freeze dried fruit, nuts and vegetables. One of the most common applications for its products is for breakfast cereals. Fruits such as strawberry, raspberry and apricot have proven to be increasingly popular in premium cereals such as museli and cereal bars. Freeze drying is known to maintain the vitamin and mineral content of foods, which has made it a popular ingredient in many health-orientated foods. And the sure sign that a developing market is starting to mature is when foods that are perceived to be healthier start to take off.
Which is why Gu has been flying the flag for his company at this week's FI-CEE exhibition, which closed its doors at the Berlin Messe yesterday. Although Gu said that the exhibition had not proved to be too fruitful for leads in the central and eastern Europe market, he still believes that the time is right for his business to break in there.
"In Europe this is where the future lies," he said. "The wealth of consumers has grown considerably in this region and people are keen to try out new food products, particularly premium products that are popular in western markets. This company is only making its first tentative steps into this market, and right now we are looking for some representation to help us penetrate it."
Interestingly Gu says that the China market, although rapidly developing in the area of food processing, is still some way off having any tangible demand for his products.
"I would imagine that in around five years the domestic market will start to become more receptive to the type of ingredients this company is supplying," he said. "The rapid development of the China market means that many food products, never before seen on the shelves of food shops, will start to appear. But for the meantime the culture for food shopping is still very much geared towards buying fresh produce from local suppliers in markets. And that will not change quickly."