Visitors line up at a KFC stand during the ongoing fifth China International Import Expo in Shanghai. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

French Ambassador to China Laurent Bili on Monday reiterated the importance of the Chinese market to French food and agricultural businesses during a media event at the ongoing fifth China International Import Expo.

Among the French exhibitors in the Food and Agricultural Products section of the CIIE this year are renowned wine brands Gerard Bertrand and Chateau Mongiron, organic infant milk brand Nactalia, and Pernod Ricard, one of the world's largest wine and spirits companies.

Bili said that French delegations will also be holding promotional events in other Chinese cities like Chengdu, Sichuan province and Haikou, Hainan province to continue promoting French food products to Chinese consumers.

France is presently China's largest source of imported wines, and such exports from the European nation to China have been growing steadily in recent times. According to the Federation of French Wine and Spirits Exporters, exports of wines and spirits to the Chinese mainland in 2021 grew 57 percent year-on-year.

Bili said exports of French dairy products, grains and meat to China have also posted exceptional growth over the past few years.

"France has a significant number of food and agricultural companies presenting at this year's expo. Their presence this year and during past editions of the CIIE highlights the importance of the Chinese market to French food and agricultural companies," he said.

Other exhibitors in the Food and Agricultural Products section who share the same sentiments include Kavisha Lokuhitige, secretary general of the China Sri Lanka Association for Trade and Economic Cooperation.

"The expo is definitely the best platform in China to meet new distributors and wholesalers. At the first edition of the CIIE, I only brought down a few types of products. But following the warm response we received, Sri Lankan companies have expanded the range of products they showcase at the expo over the years," Lokuhitige said.

Lokuhitige added that Sri Lankan tea, also known as Ceylon tea, and coconut products have been well-received by Chinese consumers since they were showcased at the inaugural edition of the CIIE.And this year, the association decided to debut a new product — Sri Lankan cashews — due to the premium quality of the nuts.

"I didn't bring the cashews for the earlier editions because I wasn't sure if the price point would sit well with Chinese consumers. But after witnessing their spending power and appetite for high-quality products, we were confident that our cashews would do well here. We have already received good feedback from wholesalers," he said.

When asked about what other types of Sri Lankan specialties could hit the Chinese market in the future, Lokuhitige said plans to bring its cinnamon into China are already underway.

At the booth of Yum China, which operates a host of fast-food subsidiaries in China, Pizza Hut unveiled its new Wagyu beef in scallion oil noodles alongside a series of other popular food products that were present at previous editions of the expo.

"As the first foreign catering chain enterprise to enter China, Yum China is fortunate to have experienced China's reform and opening-up, which has brought extraordinary development opportunities in China's massive market, for 35 years," said Joey Wat, CEO of Yum China.

"In the future, Yum China will give play to its own advantages, continue to innovate diversified consumption scenarios, deepen the integration of upstream and downstream industrial chains, and lead green and low-carbon transformation. We look forward to providing more support to the high-quality development of China's economy and helping China achieve its dual carbon goals."

Zhuang Qiange contributed to this story.