BACK in the 1980s, when Chinese parents thought congee was the only successor to breast milk for babies, Heinz entered China with the revolutionary concept that baby food should also have special nutrition.
Today, the US firm, which leads Chinas baby food sector, wants to tell Chinese customers: Heinz is not just about baby food. Look to Heinz for frozen food, sauces and condiments, with Heinz ketchup in Chinas future.
We have strong interests and commitment to Chinas fast growing frozen food market and the sauces and condiment business, for which Heinz is famous across the globe for over 100 years, says William R. Johnson, chairman, president and CEO of H. J. Heinz Company.
Our challenge for the frozen food market is to try our best to keep up with the market capacity, he says.
According to the CEO, Chinas market has been booming in the past decade, with the fast pace of modern life. Like everywhere in the world, Chinese customers want quick food, which takes the same amount of time to prepare as to eat, Johnson says.
He also points out that the modern retail environment, with the rapid development of Wal-Mart and Carrefour stores in China, has stimulated the sale of frozen food. We are the long-term supplier to those retailing giants, so we also see steady growth from this channel.
In addition to retail, Heinz sees opportunities in the restaurant business.
Currently, Heinz sells all its frozen products under the brand Longfong, which it acquired 16 months ago.
Ketchup so far accounts for the largest part of Heinzs sauce and condiment business worldwide. Admitting that ketchup has not become a major condiment for every Chinese family, Johnson has confidence that the market will grow rapidly.
The CEO says the firms major task here is to persuade Chinese how to use ketchup in everyday meals. In addition, the company will continue with its ketchup supply alliance with fast-food giant KFC.
Johnson says there are many opportunities in the Chinese condiment sector, revealing the company will soon launch a new sauce in China. China is one of the worlds largest sauce markets, mainly for soy sauce. However Johnson does not think Heinz will become a major player in the area.
We are looking at Chinese flavoured spicy sauce, which our company will be developing for the first time, he says.
As for baby food, Heinz will further strengthen its market position by launching more products for infants, such as snacks, biscuits and finger food.