E-commerce giant Alibaba Group is partnering with the government of Argentina to bring the South American country’s foods and wine to China, as Chinese consumers increasingly look overseas for these goods.
A new memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two parties designates Alibaba’s platforms as official channels for the sale of Argentina’s top agricultural products into China, while the Argentine government will offer both online and offline support to merchants looking to take advantage of the newly struck deal. There are also provisions aimed at increasing awareness of these products among Chinese consumers.
“Argentina produces some of the best wine and foods in the world,” Alibaba Group President Michael Evans said in a statement. “Chinese consumers have an ever-growing appetite for buying fresh produce and quality international products.”
Juan Pablo Tripodi, vice president of International Trade of the Argentina Investment and Trade Promotion Agency, echoed those sentiments, calling the MOU a “great step for Argentina on its way to becoming the ‘supermarket of the world,’ and is part of the mission we are undertaking to bring Argentine SMEs better trade opportunities and greater global competitiveness.”
Argentina is known largely for its meats and seafood, such as beef and king crab. But wine, too, is a major commodity there, with production reaching 1.34 million liters in 2015, according to U.S.-based The Wine Institute. That figure puts the country in 5th place among global wine producers as well, behind Italy, France, Spain and the U.S., respectively.
As Chinese consumers become ever more discerning shoppers, the demand for overseas goods, including food and wine, is on the rise. According to UK wine consultancy Wine Intelligence, the number of urban upper middle class imported wine drinkers in China rose to 48 million in 2015, up from 38 million the year before. The consumption of imported wines grew 37 percent to 43.7 million 9-litre cases in the same year-on-year period. (Check out this infographic for more on China’s nose for imported wines.) Chinese consumers are also looking abroad for fresh foods, including meat, seafood and dairy products from Australia and New Zealand and fruits and vegetables from the U.S.
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The MOU was announced as Alibaba Group founder and Executive Chairman Jack Ma visited Argentina for the first time, meeting with President Mauricio Macri and speaking to entrepreneurs at the Cultural Center of Science in Buenos Aires.
“In Argentina I’m really excited by what I’ve seen in the past few days,” Ma said during his speech. “This is a country with great culture, great environment and opportunities too.”
This is just the second agreement with a government in South America for Alibaba. The first was with Brazil’s national postal service, Correios, in 2014.