Spanish Ham Producers Hope To “Bring Home The Bacon” In China

Spanish Luxury Exporters Look To China As New Market For Rare And Expensive Ham, Jewelry

Spanish ham producers are hoping to get their products associated with wealth and sophistication in China

Spanish ham producers are hoping to get their products associated with wealth and sophistication in China

When people think of China — or the eating habits of urban Chinese — they probably don’t think of Spanish ham. But if Spanish ham producers have their way, China will be one of their top markets in coming years. Recently, after years of trade negotiations, Spanish ham was given the greenlight in China, after which they began a marketing blitz designed to get their products associated with wealth, luxury, and distinction among wealthy Chinese. To start off this marketing effort, a Spanish ham tasting event was held recently at Beijing’s LAN Club, one of the city’s most exclusive restuarant/nightclubs, along with a Spanish jewelry modeling show. Additionally, ham producers began a simultaneous effort to woo Japanese residents in China’s major cities, as these consumers — some of the world’s most seasoned luxury buyers — are already familiar with Spanish hams and require less dedicated marketing efforts.

As the Latin American Herald Tribune writes, as for every industry the Chinese market has great potential as a destination for ham producers, but it won’t be easy to convince Chinese buyers to spend top dollar on a culinary product with which they’re not that familiar — particularly in the age of swine flu:

The ham, produced in Extremadura by the Montesano company and distributed in China by the Olivarero Chinese Spanish Consortium, or COCE, was the star of a luxurious and glitzy evening at the distinguished club, although the jewelry of Madrid designer Paloma Sanchez, who has a store in Beijing, was also prominently featured.

“This is an event to launch the ham in Beijing, to see if there’s any demand and position (it) as an exclusive luxury product, for the upper class. Therefore, we’ve accompanied it with the jewelry show,” said Daniel Martin, COCE’s general director and the organizer of the event.

The Chinese who attended the event were able to become acquainted first-hand with the ham that after many years of negotiations has finally arrived in Beijing, and the proof of its success was the fact that the trays containing the pricey delicacy became empty very quickly.

“The response was very positive. They were very interested, especially when it was explained to them why this is an expensive product, since its production is not massive, (and) besides it is ecological and has no additives,” Martin said.

COCE already has negotiated with two supermarket chains in Beijing, one specializing in catering to the Japanese community in the capital, since among the Japanese the ham is already a well-known product, and it will also be sold in more generalized stores, the businessman said.

“It’s not easy to enter (the Chinese market), since because of the swine flu more health certificates are required,” said Martin, who added that to bring the ham to China “you have to have very clear ideas.”