China’s entry into the WTO on December 11, 2001 accelerated the movement toward a market-oriented economy, open up our new markets for foreigners and invest more into foreign market,which further influences Chinese lifestyle. We can see the change from driving habit to the drinking habit. For example, China has traditionally been a tea-drinking nation. However,the global spread of coffee-houses is touching down in China, with coffee consumption increasing year after year.
It is estimated that the number could jump to 400,000 tones by 2012. The large number of consumers, which influences the coffee consumption, are returnees. As the fast pace of globalization in China, the increasing number of Chinese go to study or work abroad each year. When they return to China , they will carry on living in coffee, which they have become accustomed to. Visiting cafes and drinking coffee at breakfast is not a novelty for these consumers. One will find many Starbucks outlet on the streets of China.
Foreign ex-pats comprise another proportion of coffee consumers in China. China’s open market has attracted substantial foreign investment, which has led to rapid increase in the number of ex-pats. Shanghai’s official statistics show that the number of Taiwanese living in Shanghai for short periods (at least three months) is estimated at 230,000. The figure is expected to increase each year. Ex-pats are at the high-end of coffee consumption and are also regular patrons of cafes.
It is reported that Westerners and businessmen from Hong Kong and Taiwan represent 30% of customers at chained cafes. (1) A unique aspect of coffee usage in China is that coffee beans are also used as a medicine to treat chornic disoders such as cirrhosis of liver and gallstones. Since the Chinese have realized the medicinal value of coffee and more research is being done to produce medicines, the import of coffee beans from Brazil and Ethiopia has grown manifold in the last couple of year.