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Farm, foreign food hot buys for holidays

Updated: Jan 25,2017 7:45 AM     Xinhua

Online sales for Spring Festival are booming, and products from rural China and overseas are hot, according to e-retailers and consultants.

With the Year of the Rooster beginning on Jan 28, traditional poultry dishes are popular, including Dezhou braised chicken, sesame oil chicken, stir-fried chili chicken, and sweet and sour chicken, merchants say.

Also popular online are pine nuts from the Daxinganling region of Heilongjiang province, pecans from Zhejiang and rose puff pastries from Yunnan. Many purchases are destined to be holiday gifts for family and friends.

In the second year that major online food promotions have targeted shoppers for China’s biggest holiday, sales are brisk, according to the world’s biggest e-retailer, Alibaba.

The company said that sales during a weeklong online promotion it held for nuts and dried apricots outstripped six months of offline sales of those items nationally.

Since December, over 200 types of local specialties from domestic farms and pastures have been available via Alibaba’s Taobao and Tmall virtual malls, according to a study by Alibaba and CBNData, a data analytics media group.

Another major retailer, YHD.com, known for food and beverages and owned by retail giant Wal-Mart, said that owing to heavy demand it will extend delivery service to Chinese New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Imported products are all the rage among residents of China’s first- and second-tier cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou. With a few clicks of the mouse, world-class delicacies arrive at the dinner table, from Alaskan black cod and Canadian lobster to French wine and British tea.

The typical buyers of overseas goods are well-educated young women who earn over 100,000 yuan ($14,588) annually, Alibaba said. Buyer profiles by YHD and other retailers were similar.

The countryside hasn’t been left out, either. More than 500 overseas premium brands are available in China’s hinterlands via Rural Taobao, an arm of Alibaba that facilitates online shopping and home delivery through over 10,000 rural service centers in villages across China.

Seasonal sales of other products also are picking up.

“People are reaching beyond traditional purchases of food and clothing, to look for something personalized and from overseas,” said Kaola.com spokeswoman Wang Zheng.

Cosmetics and maternity products are popular, including lipstick, anti-aging masks and infant formula. Air purifiers and smart gadgets like virtual reality headsets also are up-and-coming products, retailers say.

Chinese online shoppers spent on average $473 on imported purchases in 2016, according to consultancy eMarketer. The company said cross-border e-commerce is expected to reach a quarter of the Chinese population by 2020.

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