Orion Food Systems President Steve Watkins joined South Dakota governor Dennis Daugaard and other executives as part of a trade delegation to China.
With over 1.3 billion consumers, and a growing interest in American brands, Watkins sees a tremendous upside for American food and beverage companies.
“Our primary goal for the trade mission was to initiate and establish long-term business partnerships in China,” reported Watkins, “We knew American brands and products were becoming very successful in China. This is being driven by their growing economy creating more wealth and disposable income. In addition, there are a growing number of foreign (to China) people living in China, looking for a taste of home.”
Watkins noted that one of the fastest growing segments is the young adult population who want to experience American culture and cuisine. According to Watkins, quick and convenient American style pizza has tremendous potential.
“We met with the top five grocery retailers in China, along with the top two importer/distributors. The most well received product was our new Papa Primo’s individual serving microwave pizza. The majority of homes in China do not have an oven so this product allows the Chinese consumer to experience good American pizza in their own home.”
Watkins emphasized that food safety was also a major component of Orion’s successful trade dialogue. Tainted infant formula and other food safety issues reported by the international media have hurt China’s reputation for food safety.
“Our recent SQF Level 2 certification (a globally recognized food safety and quality certification program),” noted Watkins, “was a big plus in their eyes.”