Investigating Chinese consumer’s purchasing behaviour and their perception and willingness to pay for imported Australian fruits and vegetables

The booming economy and the rise of the Chinese middle class make China one of the largest markets for agricultural produces. Australia exports several agricultural commodities to China, including fresh fruits and vegetables. With the growing demand for fresh fruits and vegetables in China, it is imperative to understand Chinese consumers' preference and perception of imported fruits and vegetables.

There are a number of factors associated with consumers’ purchasing behaviour, especially in relation to food products. These include socio-economic factors of consumers, biophysical properties of food, price, brand, label, country of origin, and packaging, etc. At present, consumers’ environmental awareness has changed the pattern of their purchasing behaviour and made them more inclined towards organic and environmentally friendly products. There have been even more concerns about the environmental footprint for perishable agricultural products such as fresh fruits and vegetables. The increasing demand for high-quality fresh fruits and vegetables in the global market opens opportunities for fresh fruits- and vegetables-exporting countries.   

The research aims of this study are twofold, the first is to explore, through a literature review, factors affecting Chinese consumers' perceptions about purchasing imported horticultural products. The second is to investigate Chinese consumers' perception and their purchasing intention towards imported Australian fresh fruits and vegetables.

Some of the key findings of the study suggest that:

  • The Chinese consumers frequently purchased fruits and vegetables, and on average, they purchased about 2 kg of fruits and vegetables in a single shopping trip
  • The average income of the participants was about ¥ 233,000 per annum. The average expenditure on fruits and vegetables per week was ¥ 206, as revealed in this study
  • The Chinese consumers who had better attitudes towards imported fresh fruits and vegetables were more likely to purchase Australian produces
  • The image of Australian produces led to higher consumer satisfaction and motivated their willingness to buy.   

This report makes the following recommendations:

  • Australian producers need to understand the quality required to export fresh produces to China. Failing to meet the quality requirements may have severe consequences as the quality expectation for Australian produces is very high.  
  • Environment concern has a moderate effect on consumer purchase decision, while food safety label has less appeal to consumers. Producers should adopt environment-friendly production strategies and procedure to reach more Chinese consumers. 
  • The results indicate the high demand for fruits and vegetables among Chinese consumers in the 13 provinces where the research participants of this study were from. Further research is needed to quantify the demand more accurately. 
  • Taste perception can be highly important among Chinese consumers, which leads to their purchase of imported fruits and vegetables. Producers should be aware of this and need to ensure that they deliver quality fresh produces with superior taste. 
  • Chinese consumers have a high willingness to pay premiums for fresh produces. It is indicated that Chinese consumers would pay a high premium for organic certified produces, but not for produces with a food safety label. Further research is needed to ascertain and quantify these findings.
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Rahman, A., Akbar, D., Rolfe, J., Li, E. Nguyen, T., Kinnear, S., and Bhattarai, S

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