EU food chief embarks on Chinese charm offensive

European food and ingredients suppliers are hoping for a boost in trade with China following a visit to the country by Mariann Fischer Boel, European Union Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development.

Fischer Boel was in China from 18-22 May spearheading a charm offensive designed to promote the quality and diversity of European food and drink under the banner 'Tasty Europe.'

Eleven top executives from food and drink companies from across the European Union with a combined annual turnover of €27 billion accompanied the Commissioner on the visit. Key categories represented included dairy and soft beverages.

The main objective of the visit was to increase joint business opportunities in the agri-food sector between the EU and China, said Fischer Boel. "European food and drink products have a well-deserved international reputation for their quality. Our agricultural trade to China grew by 82% over the last four years. We continue to see enormous potential on this market for our producers to tap into growing demand for high quality and traditional European food and drink with the very best food safety standards. I look forward to working closely with the business delegation in finding out how best to do business in China."

During the visit, the Commissioner and the business delegation met with members of the Chinese business community both in Shanghai and Beijing. Fischer Boel also held meetings with leading members of the Chinese government, including Vice Premier Hui Liangyu, Agriculture Minister Sun Zhengcai, Minister Wang Yong of the Chinese General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine and Vice-minister of Commerce Yi Xiaozhun.

The trip was timed to coincide with the trade show SIAL China, which opened in Shanghai on 19 May.

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