Juan José Vidal Wood is the business manager for Asian markets at Watt’s, a leading Chilean food exporter, which recently set up a representative office in China to sell fruit and dairy products into the country.
Q: What products is Watt’s trying to sell here?
A: We decided to bring cheese, lactose-free milk and creams to China. Also, fruit juice and jams. This week we are going start selling our whipping cream in Metro stores nationwide. In the first week of April we will start selling gouda.
Q: The Chinese fresh food market is highly fragmented. How do you deal with distribution issues?
A: At present we sell through a local Chinese distributor to sell into different supermarket chains like Lotus and Metro. But now we are also trying to sell directly to the supermarkets because it would be easier.
Q: How so?
A: I think that it’s important for us to get feedback from the supermarkets. I’ve been in China for a while and I know: When you have guanxi with a supermarket, you can do much better business.
Q: What about getting products through customs?
A: For the moment, all of our containers that we bring into China are transshipped. There are many combinations, but we haven’t had any problems with the certificate of origin. The problem we have now is with getting product samples into the country. Chinese companies asked us to send samples of our milk powder, but it took one month to get in one box.