With almost one third of U.S. Pacific Northwest cherries being exported to the Chinese market, the most recent cooperation between the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Trade Office and Tmall.com could mean big business for major cherry export states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Utah.
This is the second time the USDA and Tmall.com have teamed up to offer American-made food products to Chinese consumers, and probably won’t be the last.
“Tmall.com is offering an excellent new channel for small and medium-sized American food and beverage producers to access millions of middle class consumers in China,” stated Keith Schneller, Director of the USDA Agricultural Trade Office Shanghai.
According to U.S. Department of Commerce statistics, agricultural exports from the U.S. to China reached $26 billion in 2012, up 38 percent from 2011. On Tmall.com alone, consumer demand for imported food in China surged 500 percent in the first half of 2013 amidst concerns over food safety in the country.
In March 2013, Danone and Nestle launched their official flagship stores on Tmall.com offering a number of milk powder brands in the aim of providing authentic, quality products directly to Chinese families. They also used the pre-sales method whereby the manufacturer ships directly to the consumer from the place of production. According to USDA and Tmall’s joint release, it is estimated that approximately 50 percent of supply chain costs can be saved using the pre-sale model, also known as drop-shipping.
“The pre-sale model has revolutionized the traditional imported food supply chain and not only returns cost savings to buyers and suppliers, but also ensures that consumers receive the freshest produce possible, direct from the source,” said Daniel Zhang, president of Tmall.com.
The current USDA promotion is being hosted on the Tmall.com pre-sale channel, yushou.tmall.com, which allows users to pay a small deposit on selected items for later delivery, enabling small and medium-ized U.S. suppliers to more accurately estimate consumer demand and ship only products that are ordered.
“E-commerce is bringing about new opportunities for U.S. food suppliers and distributors and facilitating enhanced U.S.-China trade, and we are proud to be serving as a bridge for our businesses into the burgeoning Chinese consumer market,” said Ambassador Gary Locke.
Twenty tons of American cherries were pre-ordered in the first three days of the USDA and Tmall.com’s pre-sale campaign, taking place June 27 to July 11, 2013. More than 60 other American food products recommended by the Agricultural Trade Office are currently on offer, including Sun-Maid raisins, Boston lobster, Alaskan wild salmon and cod and Snyder’s pretzels.