At the food and food technology halls 1-3 at the 100th China Food & Drinks Fair (CFDF) spring fair 2019, Chengdu, China.
Text & Photo © M Svorken, CM Cordeiro 2019

With a population that is 18.41% of total world population, China ranks top of the list of countries and dependencies by population [1]. Standing on the exhibition grounds, in the midst of the CFDF 100th spring fair in Chengdu, you certainly feel as stardust, that make part of the constellation of individuals moving through just this one fair. The vast spaces and large numbers of individuals walking by, easily masks one of the country’s upcoming significant challenges, which is a decline in birth rate and an increase in life expectancy [2]. As such, the upcoming domestic issues for the country is one that needs multiple levels and time-frames of strategic policy planning that includes food, agriculture and technology.

Walking into Hall 3, designated for food, I had personally expected to find raw produce ranging from vegetables to seafood, and a showcasing of beautifully crafted foods from carefully grown fruits to nicely decorated cakes, much like what you can find in a Japanese wet market or at the recent Gothenburg Passion för Mat 2019 fair held in Sweden. I found myself however, facing a myriad of packaged, convenient foods of all sorts, conveniently bite-sized marinated squid and fish included. The packaged, convenient foods exhibited in Hall 3 were complemented by exhibits in Hall 1 that highlighted food packaging technologies, various types of process automation systems and robotic systems.

While this fair in Chengdu has a robust process automation feel to it, an eye catching display that appealed to a younger crowd was a robot barista who poured coffee for visitors (much like the Cafe X Robotic Coffeebar 2.0 that was showcased in a different fair, in Shanghai 2018). Want milk with your coffee? No problems, just program in your order for that. Another robot chef showed how pancakes could be made and placed on your plate at the press of a button, with little or no hassle to the owner of that robot.

From Cafe X Technologies, Inc. While the ambiance of this booth was absent at the Chengdu fair, the showcasing of a similar robot service drew quite a crowd at the 100th CFDF spring fair, in Chengdu, China.

The food technology and packaging exhibits could in general, be viewed as part of the larger fabric of China’s early 2000s efforts in bolstering the sustainable development model for its agriculture science and technology sector [3]. While this was not in particular a fair that showcased fresh, organic foods, it did however reflect the current lifestyle trends and needs of the Chinese society. Super metropolises and impressive urban spaces in China [4] run and evolve in parallel with a people who seldom sleep, and where work and family living move fast on their feet. Bite-sized portions of food, conveniently packaged, and drinks cartons of all sizes, and with a myriad of flavours, makes part of daily living in China.

Vacuumed packed, (most) anything.

Fish snacks.

[1] Worldometers (2019). China. Internet resource at Retrieved 30 March 2019.
[2] Myers, S.L., Wu, J. & Fu, C. (2019). China’s looming crisis: A shrinking population, The New York Times, 21 Jan. 2019. Internet resource at Retrieved 30 March 2019.
[3] Dolla, V.S. (2011). Agricultural science and technology in China: A review of three decades of policy and progress, Journal of Science and Technology Policy in China, 2(1):79-93,
[4] Wong, M. H. (2019). Megacities and more: A guide to China’s most impressive urban centers. 6 March 2019, CNN Business Traveller. Internet resource at Retrieved 30 March 2019.