Latvian sprats, dairy products and bread appeared at the expo held in Ningbo, a port city and a Special Economic Zone of China where 16 Central and Eastern European countries are trying to lure new customers. The Chinese consumers' purchasing power has grown in the last years, sparking a demand for quality European products.
"Every market opens only gradually. We'll fill the Russian vacuum with France, we are already exporting to Mexico, and hopefully [we will export] to China as well," said Arnolds Babris of "Brīvais Vilnis", a sprat producing company.
There are a number of challenges for launching in China, including the unique business environment and the language barrier. In spite of that, producers like "Lāču maize", which makes rye bread, have found their way to the expo.
"It's difficult to say if we'll teach [the Chinese] to eat rye bread, but it's certain that they'll be eating food from Latvia and Europe as well," said Normunds Skauģis of the "Lāču maize" bakery.
There seem to be some advantages for Latvian products as well. Viesturs Krilovs, a member of the Management Board of the Jaunpils dairy, said that it's "Not Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany or Italy that are thought to be green and seen as having natural products, that's why this pavilion is hosted with only these 16 countries."
Trade volumes between Latvia in China have been small and almost exclusively centered on imports. The Chinese government seems to be intent on changing the situation, as the fact that plans for a permanent exhibition hall of 750,000 square feet seems to show.