Grocery shopping in China has undergone a profound revolution in the past decades. Less than half a century ago, most people in the country had to rely on ration coupons for food and daily necessities. Today, consumers in many cities can order goods produced far and near via their smartphones and have them delivered to their doorstep within 30 minutes. Estimates show that China will be the world’s second-largest grocery market in 2022 and is expected to overtake the United States in 2024.
The rise of the grocery market in China
Of the many outcomes of the economic reformation in China over the years, one that has affected the public positively was the steady increase in disposable income across the nation. While a large disparity still exists between the annual per capita income of rural and urban households, one cannot help but acknowledge the rate at which household net income has increased since 1990. Eastern China is one of the most affluent regions, with the annual disposable income of urban household members amounting to a little over 52 thousand yuan.
Since nearly a decade ago, e-commerce has become an unstoppable trend in China. By 2021, online retail held more than 30 percent of the FMCG retail market in China, thanks to the rapidly developing internet penetration and postal services. Fresh food was one of the quickest developing sectors within online retail. In 2021, the online sales value of fresh produce surpassed 4.9 trillion yuan, with approximately 70 million consumers purchasing fresh food from the most popular e-commerce companies. Online shoppers claimed to find grocery shopping most convenient on e-commerce platforms and were usually quite satisfied with product delivery services as well as food safety aspects.
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Research expert covering e-commerce and FMCG in Greater China