Food is Life in Hong Kong

05 Sep 2016

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Hong Kong is a microscope into what food Asia wants, will import, and (most critically) will pay for. With fruit and vegetables both largely imported, the focus here is on both freshness and health-giving properties.

I'm in Hong Kong for the Asia Fruit Logistica Conference, and I've used the time to have a look around. With more than seven million people, Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, with about 6300 people per square kilometre. The population consists mainly of ethnic Chinese, who make up approximately 92.6% of people living in Hong Kong. It is expected that the number of people aged over 65 will double in the next 15 years, to more than a quarter of the total population. For this older generation, the traditional ways and beliefs that all the food you eat contributes to your health make for powerful selling points for New Zealand exports.

Hong Kong does not grow its own fruit and it grows only a small amount of the vegetables consumed there. So in reality, all fruit and vegetables are imported.  Even in the poorest areas – pictured is a fruit and vegetable shop in one of the traditional poor areas of Hong Kong, Sham Shui Po – quality and freshness are prized.

The traditional Hong Kong resident’s approach to food is to eat only what is perceived to be good for the body, or to cure an ailment. Dried items from the traditional medicine shop are used to combat all sorts of ailments from menstrual pains, to impotence, to asthma. Whether you are a Hong Kong resident earning only 10,000 Hong Kong dollars a month, or a wealthy expat or resident on Hong Kong Island, there is not only a focus on freshness when it comes to fruit and vegetables, but also on what health-giving properties the fruit or vegetable offers.  This is the winning combination for Asia.

New Zealand fruit and vegetables were exported to 125 countries in 2015. The top five markets in order of size were Australia, the USA, Japan, the UK and, for the first time, China. These five export markets accounted for more than $2.58 billion in sales, an increase of $130 million on 2014 and 60% of New Zealand’s total horticultural exports in 2015. Japan is the largest importer of New Zealand’s fresh vegetables and a significant market for fruit. There is a gradual move for both fruit and vegetables to be sold in Asia with a focus on the potential that China has to offer. In this mix Hong Kong, with its concentration of people and affluence is on its own, an important market for New Zealand.  


- Mike Chapman, CEO