Helping African Brands Enter the Chinese Market
China is the world’s second-largest market. Therefore, any country looking to increase its export footprint is an important market to enter and gain significant market share. In the last decade, China has seen a rapid increase in coffee consumption. While China’s hot beverage consumption has historically been dominated by tea, coffee consumption has grown in the country.
This growth has been spurred mainly by China’s Generation Y and Z consumers, who have embraced aspects of the western lifestyle. In 2021, the consumption of coffee in China was mostly by people between 25 to 34 years.
This trend bodes well for African coffee producers because there is an opportunity to sell their produce and earn significant profits. As African countries work to improve and increase their exports, countries like Ethiopia and Uganda are witnessing exponential growth in their coffee exports to China.
As of 2021, Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya were the top three exporters of coffee in Africa.
The volume of Ethiopia’s coffee exports to China is expected to grow 16% year on year.
While Ugandan coffee exports to China more than doubled from 33,000 in 2018 to 83,000 in 2020.
The value of China’s coffee market is expected to increase to about 13.25 billion U.S. dollars in 2025.
There is room for African producers to earn a significant share of this amount yearly. African producers can look to cities like Shanghai, which boasts more coffee shops than any city in the world and Chengdu, the third largest coffee market in china, with a new coffee shop opening every day.
So, how can African coffee producers sell their coffee in China’s rapidly expanding market? 88% of Chinese consumers said in a survey that they use e-commerce and social media to learn about coffee products and services, and the majority of people in China purchase using shopping apps, such as JingDong (JD), PinDuoDuo and Alibaba’s TaoBao and Tmall.
Thus, any foreign brand looking to sell in the Chinese market should focus on getting to grips with China’s different e-commerce and social media platforms. These tools play a significant role in helping domestic and foreign brands sell across China. Read here about China’s biggest and best e-commerce sales platforms and social media platforms for foreign brands here.
For African coffee brands in particular, there are three sales channels and strategies to take note of…
1. There are a growing number of e-commerce stores dedicated to selling premium African products (and especially roasted African coffee) on China’s biggest e-commerce sales platforms – WeChat Store and Tmall. The first e-commerce store is Kiliselect, which is the Chinese version of Kilimall and can be found on WeChat Store. The second is operated by the China-Africa Economic and Trade Cooperation Promotion Innovation Demonstration Park in Hunan’s free trade zone for Africa-China trade. It is commonly known as 高桥优选, roughly translated as ‘Gaoqiao Preferred.’ Both are supported by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), which gives them both a lot of support in terms of promotion and import procedures. Africa Reimagined has a dedicated ‘Africa Reimagined’ section on both stores. Contact us to find out how your brand can sell on Kiliselect and Gaoqiao Preferred.
Rwandan coffee by Java House sold on Kiliselect’s WeChat Store.
2. In order to implement a number of Africa to China trade boosting initiatives announced at the 2021 Forum of China-Africa Cooperation, MOFA and MOFCOM have been hosting African coffee tasting and Chinese business partnership matchmaking events for African coffee producers to find Chinese coffee importers, distributors and agents in partnership with International Construction Bank of China (ICBC) and the International Trade Center (ITC), as well as Gaoqiao Preferred. Africa Reimagined supports African coffee producers with participating in these events. Contact us for more information on how to participate.
An African coffee tasting and business matchmaking event hosted by ICBC, ITC and Gaoqiao Preferred in July 2022.
3. Live-streaming is becoming the ultimate way to promote and sell African coffee to a large number and wide range of Chinese consumers. During a live stream event, the Ethiopian roasting company of Arada Coffee sold more than 11,200 bags of its coffee in one second, which set a record on the Alibaba online shop, Two online live stream sessions were held by Alibaba in China to promote Rwandan coffee have contributed to sales of Rwandan coffee increasing by 400 per cent in 2020, according to information from Alibaba. For example, one brand, the Rwanda Farmers Coffee Company, disclosed that their brand sold over 7.2 tonnes to Chinese online consumers during 2020 after the live stream events.
A Livestream event to promote and sell Rwandan coffee. Source: https://news.cgtn.com/news/2020-11-07/New-opportunities-for-African-coffee-growers-in-China-s-digital-market-VdZKZHtdwA/index.html
Freddy is a research intern in Africa Reimagined. He focuses on Chinese market research and wishes to assist African high-end brands to achieve success in China. He also has interest in international relations. Freddy is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in economics.
Sena Voncujovi is a research and policy analyst at Development Reimagined. Voncujovi specializes in global health issues, Japan-Africa relations, and China-Africa relations. He served as the Editor-in-chief of Peking University’s Africa Think Tank (PATT) during his master’s in International Relations & Politics as a Yenching Scholar. Voncujovi previously advised the Ghanaian government for the 2019 TICAD 7 Conference held in Yokohama. He is the co-founder of Jaspora, Tokyo’s largest community of African diasporan diplomats, changemakers, professionals, students, and business people.
Fikayo Akeredolu is a finance and research analyst at Development Reimagined. She is studying for a PhD in Politics & International Relations at Oxford. Her research focuses on how African countries can better leverage economic and political power. She has experience in financial products from Bloomberg LP and Thomson Reuters. She is also a Schwarzman Scholar.
Yixin is a Junior Research Analyst and her focus areas is on public-private partnership and entrepreneurship. She has over three years of working experience in both private and public sectors in Ethiopia. She was the China Liaison Officer for project ‘Partnership for Investment and Growth in Africa’ at International Trade Centre, where she accumulated rich experience in investment and trade promotion.
Ivory is a Kenyan lawyer with experience in policy research and analysis. She also supports the communications team through liaising with African brands, creating graphic content and other external outputs at AR. Ivory speaks English, Swahili and French
Patrick is an International Trade Policy and Trade Law Expert with over 5 years of experience. His expertise includes trade law, trade policy analysis and regional integration. He is currently engaged with Development Reimagined as a Senior Trade Analyst, and he applies his Trade Policy expertise to AR’s work. Patrick has previously consulted for the East African Community, UNECA and for the Kenya Ministry of Trade.
Jinyu is a dual-degree Master’s student at Sciences Po & Peking University. At Africa Reimagined, Jinyu produces research to foster better mutual understanding between African clients and Chinese consumers.
Yike Fu is a Policy Analyst and has been responsible for leading numerous areas of work, including on debt analysis in Africa and beyond, and China-Africa trade and investment logistics and analysis. She is the co-author of “African Debt Guide”, in which she challenged the narrative that Africa is in the midst of a new debt crisis by analysing data back to the 1970s and adopting new metrics to present the real story behind the data. She also developed a benchmark to compare the financial distribution of development partners such as the UK, US, Japan, France and China in Africa. Prior to her role at DR she worked at the International Finance Corporation and African Union Representational Mission to the US. She holds a Masters in International Affairs from George Washington University.
Rosie is the Project Manager of Africa Reimagined (AR) at Development Reimagined (DR) where she supports high-end African brands with entering the Chinese market by operating services such as trademark protection, Chinese market research, Chinese partnership building, and Africa to China logistical support and import/export services. Rosie has worked with DR for over two years now with proven success in helping high-end African brands navigate the Chinese market. She is extremely passionate about her work because more African brands selling in the Chinese marketplace means African countries can export MORE value-added goods, create MORE jobs and foster MORE innovation in African countries.
Leah Lynch is Deputy Director of Development Reimagined (DR), and head of the China office. Leah has over 10 years of experience in development and has lived in China for over 8 years. Leah has also travelled extensively around Asia and Africa for research. Leah supports the strategic direction of the team across China, with a mission to deliver high quality research on sustainable development and poverty reduction. Leah is also Chair of the Sustainability Forum at the British Chamber of Commerce in China, providing direction on sustainability initiatives for British and Chinese business. Leah has also consulted on various evaluations on UK aid (ICAI) and is a specialist on development cooperation from the UK and China. Leah has also consulted on various UN projects, including providing support to the UN China team during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Prior to DR, Leah was at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) China, supporting the UN’s portfolio on communication strategies, China’s South- South Cooperation and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Before UNDP, Leah lived and worked in Kenya developing sustainable water policies for the Kenyan government.
Hannah Ryder is the Founder & CEO of Development Reimagined. A former diplomat and economist with 20 years of experience, named one of 100 most influential Africans in 2021, she is also Senior Associate for the Africa Program of the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS), sits on the Board of the Environmental Defence Fund, and is a member of UAE’s International Advisory Council on the New Economy. Prior to her role at DR, Ms Ryder led the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s work with China to help it scale up and improve its cooperation with other developing countries, including in Africa. She has also played various advisory roles for the UN and OECD and co-authored the seminal Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change in 2006.
We support our clients throughout the whole onboarding and sales process on Chinese e-commerce platforms including registration, international and China-mainland logistics, storage, payment transfers, and marketing & advertising strategies.
In addition to supporting our clients with onboarding onto e-commerce platforms or developing their own WeChat stores, we also have our own Africa Reimagined e-commerce stores for our clients to sell on.
Kiliselect on WeChat Stores: Africa Reimagined launched on Kiliselect, which is a foremost e-commerce store for premium African products in China and the Chinese branch of East Africa’s Kilimall. It houses brands from a range of sectors including food and beverage, skincare and homeware. Kiliselect is found on WeChat Stores, which gives the store access to 1.2 billion active WeChat users across China.
JD-Worldwide: Next year, Africa Reimagined will open the first ever flagship, pan-Africa e-commerce store for premium African brands on JD-Worldwide, the cross-border e-commerce platform of China’s largest retailer, JD.com. It will sell exclusively luxury African brands from a range of sectors including, fashion and jewellery, food and beverage, skincare. and homeware.