U.S. pork items available for Chinese consumers to purchase online.
A NEW commercial pork website operated by TMall.com, China's business-to-consumer market leader, has opened and is promising nationwide delivery of eight U.S. pork items within 24-48 hours.
The new e-commerce platform attracted more than 400,000 viewers within the first few hours of operation, and a promotion organized by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) to win a sample of American pork drew more than 2,000 applications in the first hour. Support for the promotion is being provided through the pork checkoff.
The U.S. pork items offered to Chinese consumers range from precut, bone-in pork butt steaks to pork bellies. The products are sourced from three U.S. processors and are being sold through three specialized distributors that can deliver the frozen, ready-to-cook items within 48 hours.
The site provides a range of information on U.S. pork and the available products. A link allows shoppers to view a video about U.S. pork production, while specific information on the brands and distributors selling the products provides assurances regarding the U.S. products plus a "tenfold money-back guarantee."
Three guest chefs, including Hong Kong celebrity gourmet chef Hugo (Liang Wen Tao) and the chef to the U.S. ambassador to China, provided recipes, photos and instructional videos for the promotion.
"Online commerce is growing in China at a phenomenal rate," said Joel Haggard, USMEF senior vice president for the Asia-Pacific region. "Food is still a small portion of total online sales, but consumers are becoming more accepting of receiving courier packages of food, including frozen perishables like meat."
U.S. pork was sold online in China prior to this activity, but the dedicated sales platform represents a new breakthrough in online visibility, Haggard said. Online shoppers are looking for the latest brands and are interested in the story behind the products, so the partnership with TMall will also help USMEF educate Chinese consumers about the attributes of U.S. pork.
Revenue from e-commerce in China last year reached an estimated $290 billion, an increase of 38% over 2012. TMall is the largest business-to-consumer e-commerce platform in China, with a 57% market share.
TMall was also featured at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Outlook Forum last month, where participants heard a presentation on the company and the current and potential sales of U.S. food products through its USA Country Pavilion.
The various components of the TMall promotion were coordinated by USMEF's team in Shanghai, China, over the last few weeks.
"This involved an incredible coordinating effort among our staff, between TMall staff, U.S. processors, their distributors and the guest chefs featured on the site," Haggard said.
The China/Hong Kong region was the third-largest export market for U.S. pork in 2013, purchasing 920 million lb. valued at $903.4 million, an increase of 2% in value on 3% lower volumes versus 2012 levels.