OCT, 2023

Portuguese F&B Brands – Performance Analysis

Litao analysed Portuguese food and beverage brands in China Mainland, Hong Kong and Macau, providing valuable insights for new entrants and identifying successful strategies for exports.

China F&B Market Overview

Collectively China Mainland, Hong Kong and Macau food markets are valued over €1.1 trillion. Portuguese beverage and snack brands can leverage market positioning by highlighting it´s premium quality production and ingredients.

Notably, beer and wine account for the largest share of the total food and beverage products exported from Portugal to China Mainland. A few snack exporters, known for their high quality, consistently achieve annual sales exceeding €1 million. More health supplement brands cooperate with China importers to capitalise on the growing market trend in this category.

Imported F&B Market

The region has unique food needs. China Mainland 15% of its food mainly through general trade, while Macau relies on imports for 97% of its food, and Hong Kong for 95%.

The market sizes are:

    • China General Trade: €152.9 billion
    • Hong Kong: €21.3 billion
    • China Cross-Border E-Commerce: €13.4 billion
    • Macau: €1.8 billion

(Statistic Bureau of China; Macau, Ministry of Commerce)

EU Products Exported

The EU supplies 20+ F&B product categories to the region. China Mainland is the largest importer, while Macau, the smallest, mainly importing wine and spirits.

The top seven EU F&B categories exported are:

    1. Cereal and milling products: €3.6 billion in exports
    2. Pigmeat: €3.6 billion
    3. Dairy products: €2 billion
    4. Wine and wine based products: €1.3 billion
    5. Spirits and liqueurs: €939 million
    6. Cereals: €788 million
    7. Beer, cider and other beverages: €644 million

The seven fastest-growing categories since 2021 are:

    1. Oilseed and protein crops (grew by 82%)
    2. Cereal preparations and milling products (by 32%)
    3. Olive and olive oil (by 31%)
    4. Mixed food preparations and ingredients (by 30%)
    5. Fruits and nuts (by 25%)
    6. Coffee, tea and spices (by 22%)
    7. Confectionary and chocolate (by 6%)

(European Commission; Macau, Ministry of Commerce)

Focus on China

Europe plays a significant role in supplying food to the region. European exports make up 10% of all food imports in China Mainland, 9% in Hong Kong, and 15% in Macau.

Meanwhile, China Mainland stands as the EU’s third-largest destination for agri-food exports, reaching €15.6 billion in 2022.

This accounts for 7% of the EU’s overall agri-food trade, in contrast to 21% for exports to the UK and 12.8% to the US.

(Statistic Bureau of China; European Commission; Eurostat)


Best Performing Imported Types

In China Mainland, ´Snack´ lead as the best-performing imported F&B category, followed by ´drinks´, ´fruit´, ´cereal´ and ´functional food´, based on Tmall (the largest e-commerce platform).

Overall, the ´snack´ category, valued at €190.6 billion in 2022, holds the largest share within China’s F&B market. (Source)

5 Best-performing Imported F&B Product Categories

% Of Tmall Global users shopped categories, under F&B

Source, Growthbox analysis

The Fastest Growing Categories

In China Mainland, ´Healthy/Functional Food´ had the fastest growth, reaching €43.5 billion in 2022 (6.27% growth 2018-2022).

´Health supplement´ dominated this category with €25.4 billion in 2022 (6.21% YoY growth).

Market size of health supplements 2017-2022 (Bln, EUR)

Source, iiMedia Research

F&B Exports of Portugal: €83M

In 2022, Portugal exported food and beverages valued at €83 million, with €65 million going to China Mainland, €13.5 million to Macau, and €4.5 million to Hong Kong.

In China Mainland fish & sea food (€19.65M) and beverages (€18.41M) (mainly beer and wine) were two leading categories, jointly making up to 58% of those exports. Interestingly, these were also the two fastest growing categories growing by 27.8% and 26% respectively since 2021.

By Aug 2023, 456 food manufacturers in Portugal received approvals for exports to China Mainland.

F&B Exports of Portugal to China in 2022, by types

Source, Portugal Exports to China

  • 30% Fish: €19.65M
  • 28.3% Beverages: €18.41M
  • 18.1% Meat: €11.78M
  • 14.4% Vegetable Oils: €9.37M
  • 3.8% Coffee: €2.47M
  • 5.4% Other: €3.3M

Portugal Image

´Portugal´ translates phonetically in Mandarin Chinese as Pu Tao Ya
(葡萄牙), which means ´grape teeth´. Today, it is a reference to the country’s long history of wine-making.

The country is known for the ‘Colonial Empire’ that took over Macau before 1999 and the national football team.

Regarding food and beverage, Chinese consumers are familiar with Portuguese egg tart and port wine.


Portuguese Brands in China

Number of Exporters by F&B Categories:

  • 351 Beer and Wines
  • 13 Edible Oil
  • 11 Soft Drinks
  • 9 Health Supplement
  • 7 Chocolate/ Candies
  • 6 Coffee
Port Wine
Azeite Royal
Olive Oil
Health Supplement
Delta Q

What do Chinese Consumers say?

‘Portuguese port wine is well-known worldwide! It certainly lives up to its international reputation.’

– Mr. Jiang, a post-80s male white collar (from Tmall, translated by Litao)

‘Dark beer from Portugal with a hundred years of history. Rich foams and a robust coffee and wheat aroma. Love it!’

– Mr. Liu, a man from Northern China in his 40s (from JD, translated by Litao)

How are brands selling: Delta Q

Delta Q, set up a company in China to reach the consumers and respond to market feedback.

  • 4 sales channels: Tmall, JD, official website, WeChat
  • 2 social media channels: WeChat, Weibo

The brand´s goal is to enhance the lifestyle of Chinese consumers through coffee education and unique coffee consumption experiences.

How to Enjoy Coffee with Delta Q

How are Brands Selling: DietMed

DietMed, partnered with Leabon Group, a Hong Kong-based importer working with 15 brands (13 are from EU).

  • 2 sales channels: Tmall Global, JD worldwide
  • 1 social media channel: Importer’s WeChat account

To meet the growing demand for health supplements, the importer has chosen 7 SKUs to enter China via cross-border e-commerce capitalising on simplified importation procedure.

Nature of the Country of Origin
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