Organisers of one of Asia's largest trade shows dedicated to natural and organic products are bracing themselves for a big influx of mainland buyers following a boom in organic product sales after recent food scares.
The 10th Natural Products Expo, which runs from August 23 to 25 at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai, will feature more than 200 companies from around the globe.
The timing of the event could not be better. Last month, the State Council vowed to make great strides over the next three years in addressing the rampant food-safety problems that plague the mainland.
It is the first time the central government has a set a time frame for action to tackle the problem. Scares over scandals ranging from baby formula tainted with melamine to pork contaminated with an asthma drug have shattered public confidence in the food industry and in the authorities' ability to tackle such problems.
The growing concern with food safety in recent years has resulted in rapid growth of the domestic organic food market. There are 1.6 million organic manufacturers in the world, 29 per cent of whom are from China. That factor, combined with a 20 per cent increase in the number of exhibitors at this year's event, has convinced organisers of the expo that this year's show will be the biggest yet.
'People in China are much more interested now in organic food and natural foodstuffs,' said expo director Shermen Ho. 'That's why the market has grown massively there in the past few years.'
Products carrying internationally recognised organic logos are rare in China. There are 23 organisations in China authorised to certify organic products, with the China Organic Food Certification Centre the best known. Another high-profile mark is the Chinese Organic Food logo issued by the Organic Food Ratification Committee, run by the State Environmental Protection Administration. However, rapid developments in organic products have led Beijing to tighten the regulations.
'In March, the Chinese government had a period where organic products could only be sold in China if they had an official chop from certified bodies. This has been in full effect again now since July 1,' Ho said.
Ho also said that one third of Hongkongers bought organic food.