After rapid industrialization in just a few decades, resulting in scarce and expensive agricultural land for its 7 million population, Hong Kong has inevitably become one of the most food-vulnerable countries in the world. However, despite importing 95% of what it eats and drinks, the country is today a food mecca, a tourist paradise, and one of the freest markets in the world. Due to its minimal trade barriers for food imports and minimal government interventions, Hong Kong is today a test market, a business accelerator, and a trade & distribution hub for further strategic opportunities to enter the markets in China and the rest of the Asia-Pacific region.
Why choose Hong Kong as your food export destination?
With citizens who enjoy travelling and eat out as a daily routine and combined with an average of 55 million annual visitors, Hong Kong is a robust tourist destination and an attractive market for a wide range of foods, one for every taste. From street food to fine dining, Hong Kong has one of the highest ratios of food establishments in the world, being currently home to more than 15.500 food and beverages outlets, including restaurants, fast food outlets, bars, pubs and other similar establishments.
Due to this particular high demand and competition, as well as as the dynamic and sophisticated food culture encouraged by affluent buyers, food importers in Hong Kong are looking for a wide range of ingredients, foods and beverages, from a wide range of international food options, from Japanese, Korean, Indian cuisines to popular Western choices.
As a trend-driven and often trendsetter market, Hong Kong is bound to international trade, especially since more than 90% of Hongkongers put high emphasis on global brands due to quality and diversity in product choices. In this regard, price is not the only sales influencing metric, instead, brand reputation, the origin of the product, quality, safety or customer experience is also a decision-maker factor.
In a similar vein, thanks to its dynamic market, zero customs tariffs and limited excise duties, Hong Kong is a paradise for importing goods, gaining its reputation as a trading accelerator hub for food and beverages products to be re-exported to other Asian destinations.
Best import prospects
Despite scarce domestic production and small food-processing industry, consumers in Hong Kong live in a paradise of choice when it comes to what they eat or drink, from fresh, local items to international high-end brands. Fueled by cosmopolitan tastes, the Hong Kong food and beverage market has a great appetite for foreign products but is also very competitive and innovative.
As a culinary hub of the world, the gourmet segment is highly attractive for both local customers and foreign producers who would like to enter the market. With the international culinary landscape of exotic flavours from around the world, Hong Kong is a gourmet paradise that reflects its service economy, societal lifestyle, and sophisticated food culture. Considering Hong Kong`s gastronomy, sauces and condiments are also in high demand, especially since the recent Covid outbreak has turned the normal lifestyle to home seclusion and social distancing, increasing the amount of home-cooked meals and takeaways.
The fast-paced changes among consumers and growing demand are shaping the growth of packaged foods like ready to eat meals or snacks who are also top-notch prospects considering their convenience, diversity, and availability. The wealthy residents, the afflux of tourists and the fine dining atmosphere of the city has also created a high demand for premium meat and meat in general, but there`s also a general need for meat alternatives like plant-based products.
On the other side, with long daily commutes, small living space, and a fast-paced lifestyle in general, Hong Kong residents are constantly aware of health and wellness, on both food intake or lifestyle in general. Along with the growing variety of products available on the market, and encouraged by the government to live healthily, Hongkongers are avid for bio foods and attentive to ingredients, food additives, allergens, nutritional values or traceability of the food they buy. The demand for organic foods and beverages has been also fuelled by the narrowing price discrepancy between this segment and the remaining conventional food. The best imported prospects in the organic market are baby foods, eggs, natural fruit juices, herbal teas as well as fresh, frozen or processed fruit & vegetables, especially since domestic production is only about 2-5%.
Marketing, sales, and trading climate
Grocery shopping in Hong Kong is very convenient, with many outlets across the entire country. The major offline retailer channels in Hong Kong are supermarkets and convenience stores, followed by gourmet and specialty stores, and local grocery stores and wet markets, popular for fresh produce such as fruits & vegetables, meat or seafood. Supermarkets dominate retail food sales, especially since major supermarket chains are developing into a one-stop-shop experience, but there`s also a rapid rise in specialized country-themed food stores.
To complement their customer service experience, physical stores also make use of online shops or mobile application and give the options of in-store pick-up and home delivery. Promotions and discounts, as well as sampling, are often used tactics to stimulate sales while small packages are preferred for convenience and scarce storing space.
Fueled by tech-savvy, wealthy and being among the most connected consumers worldwide, Hongkongers, especially Millennials are making e-commerce a thriving sales channel. Internet advertisement on social media or video streaming platforms as well as influencers endorsements are key marketing strategies for foreign brands to promote products in Hong Kong, influencing the way products are researched or marketed.
Small volumes of a wide range of products lead convenience stores, wet markets and the Horeca sector to usually supply their needs through agents or local importers, distributors or wholesalers who handle a larger number of suppliers. Supermarkets also buy from local food importers, but generally prefer to directly import their products, since they sometimes require exclusivity when dealing with an imported brand. Among the countries that supply Hong Kong, there is China, Japan, the USA, Australia, Brazil, Chile, the Philippines or Norway.
3 Food Importers from Hong Kong:
Lorence & Company
Address: Yiko Industrial Building, 10 Ka Yip Street, Chai Wan, Chai Wan, Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 2557 6123
Exclusive Foods Limited
Address: A. Unit 2205, 22/f, Tsuen Wan Industrial Centre, 220-248 Texaco Road, Tsuen Wan, New Territories, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 3665 0186
Ming Kee Chan Co, Ltd.
Address: Rm. 1915 Hong Kong Plaza, 186-191 Connaught Road West, Sai Wan, Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong
Phone:+852 2517 2686
To get access to a list of more active food importers from Hong Kong, you can access one of the BestFoodImporters databases.