Asia's largest retailer, Japan-based Ito-Yokado Co, announced that it planned to enter into a supermarket joint venture with Beijing Wangfujing Department Store Group. Ito-Yokado said the joint venture will be capitalized at US$12 million, with initial investment by the partners to total US$24 million. The Japanese retailer said that its supermarkets will aim to serve the growing desire by Chinese consumers to have fresh food with high standards of hygiene. In 1997 Ito-Yokado was the first foreign department store to be granted access to the Chinese market. It currently has three outlets in China.