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Canned food in China

“How popular is Chinese canned food in foreign countries?”: Trending hashtag on Chinese social media

Last December, in the midst of the pandemic, people in China were stocking up on canned yellow peaches (黄桃罐头). These canned fruits were perceived as a “magic medicine” or elixir that relieves the symptoms of coronavirus as it is rich in Vitamin C. Meanwhile, others were buying it for emotional comfort. The word “peach” (桃) in Chinese is pronounced the same as “escape” (逃), implying escaping from the virus.

Source: Sina, China Times. Chinese merchants’ advertisement slogan for canned yellow peaches that rhymes with “escaping from the pandemic”.

The rise of canned food hoarding and consumption in China and beyond

Furthermore, there has been a trend among Chinese people to hoard canned food in China, especially during the peak of the pandemic in 2022 when lockdowns were the most severe. However, it isn’t just China, across the globe, there is a growing demand for canned food in general due to its affordability. On Reddit, a popular forum-style social network outside of China, there is even a community called. “r/CannedSardines” for canned seafood enthusiasts and those who are interested in starting a journey in the world of canned sardines.

Chinese canned food exports hit a record high in 2022

On Weibo, the hashtag #How popular is Chinese canned food in foreign countries# (#中国罐头在国外到底有多火#) went viral in the first week of April, viewed and discussed by over a million people. In recent years, canned food has become China’s main food export. In 2022 alone, China’s canned food exports reached 6.89 billion USD (approximately 47.37 billion RMB), a record high in the past six years. Most of the canned food in China is produced in Guangdong, Fujian, and Zhejiang. In 2022, the United States and Russia saw a significant increase in the import volume of canned goods from China with a 19% and 23% increase from 2021.

What are Chinese netizens saying about canned food exports?

Netizens reacted quite positively to this and took pride in the increasing popularity of Chinese products. “Chinese products are becoming more and more popular abroad, which is also a sign of a country’s prosperity” a netizen from Jiangsu commented.

Source: Xiaohongshu. Chinese netizens’ attitudes towards canned food

Key takeaway on canned food exports from China:

  • Canned yellow peaches became a sought-after item in China during the height of the pandemic. This was due to their perceived health benefits and symbolic meaning.
  • During the pandemic, canned food consumption and hoarding increased in China and other countries. Thus, online communities of canned food lovers were formed.
  • Chinese canned food exports reached a record high in 2022. The US and Russia are the main importers of these exports. The development generated positive reactions from Chinese netizens.