Natra opened in Hong Kong on Wednesday April 3 its new commercial office in China, to attend the Asia-Pacific markets.

The new sales office represents a firm step in Natra’s commitment of expanding its business outside Europe, particularly in the markets of North America and Asia.

Among the countries of the Asia-Pacific area, China is the first target market due to its significant growth opportunities. Chocolate consumption is now awakening in this market, especially due to the development of large foreign retail chains in the country and the increasing purchasing power of the population. It is estimated that in 2016 the middle class population in China will reach 340 million people, in a market with an annual chocolate consumption of 100 grams per person, compared to 8 kilos per person in Western Europe.

In this context, Natra considered essential to move forward in the commercial development that the company had so far in the area and establish a permanent business office. The direct presence in this market will allow Natra a better identification of business opportunities and consumer trends in terms of product categories, flavors, textures and packaging, while closer business relationships with key customers, direct management of the relations with the local distribution networks and operational improvements in the region, as for instance through potential agreements for the packaging of European-manufactured products.

Natra’s progress in the last year through the sales representative team in the area has allowed the company to be already present in the top five retail chains in China. Meanwhile, Natra’s industrial product division, responsible for the production and marketing of coca derivatives such as cocoa butter, cocoa powder and chocolate coating, has enjoyed trade relations with Japan for over 25 years, being China and Korea among its future growth markets.

In 2012, Natra’s cocoa and chocolate activity in markets outside Europe accounted for 20% of total sales, reaching 63.98 million euro, an increase of 47.5% compared to 2011. Among these markets, the Asia-Pacific countries brought together 18% of export sales, an increase of 18% over the previous year.

The economic objective of Natra’s consumer goods division for the next three years is to triple sales in China, reaching around 28 million euro by consolidating a customer base of retail chains as well as importers that have their own brands and distribution capabilities in the country.

In a first phase, Natra foresees consumer demand in Asian countries to focus on the category of Belgian and French chocolates, although the company expects to identify opportunities to gradually integrate its countlines and spreads categories.