U.S. exports of high value food products to Hong Kong reached a record level of US$2.1 billion in 2010, consolidating Hong Kong’s position as our 4th largest market for these products after Canada, Mexico and Japan.
THIS REPORT CONTAINS ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES MADE BY
USDA STAFF AND NOT NECESSARILY STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT
Required Report - public distribution
GAIN Report Number: HK1107
Food Service - Hotel Restaurant Institutional
HRI Food Service Sector
U.S. exports of high value food products to Hong Kong reached a record level of US$2.1 billion in
2010, consolidating Hong Kong?s position as our 4th largest market for these products after
Canada, Mexico and Japan. Benefiting from the strong economic growth in Mainland China, Hong
Kong enjoyed 7.8% economic growth in 2010. In addition, it is expected that Hong Kong will
maintain its position as one of the top 4 markets for U.S. consumer ready food products in 2011,
as it continues to be a major buying center and transshipment point for China and Southeast Asia.
Economic growth in Hong Kong is forecast to be 4.5% in 2011. Post expects that U.S. products will
continue to fair well due to competitive prices and consumer confidence in the quality and safety
of U.S. products.
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HRI Food Service Sector
Hong Kong restaurant industry purchased over US$3.7 billion in food and beverages, and
generated sales of over US$10.7 billion in 2010. This represented an increase of 6.5% and
5.1% respectively over 2009.
Table 1. Hong Kong: Restaurant Receipts and Purchases, in US$ Million
2009 2010 2010 vs 2009
Restaurant Receipts 10,239 10,764 5.1%
Restaurant Purchases 3,546 3,776 6.5%
As Asia?s most cosmopolitan city, Hong Kong boasts around 13,000 restaurants serving a wide
range of world cuisines. These restaurants are comprised of 36% Chinese, 55% non-Chinese
restaurants, and 9% fast food outlets. In addition, there are over 1,000 bars, pubs and other
eating and drinking establishments.
Chinese restaurants: Chinese restaurants are popular among local citizens and tourists.
There are a variety of Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong serving different regional cuisines:
Canton, Shanghai, Beijing, Sichuan?etc. A typical lunch at a nice Chinese restaurant costs
around US$13-40 per person and a typical dinner costs around US$20-50 per person.
Non-Chinese restaurants: Many Hong Kong consumers enjoy western food, as do the 36
million tourists. 5-Star and other high-end western restaurants are as likely to be
patronized by locals as tourists/visitors. Japanese food, fast food chains, coffee houses and
casual dining establishments are also increasing their presence. A typical lunch at a
western restaurant costs around US$13-40 per person and a typical dinner costs around
US$25-65 per person.
Fast food outlets: Fast food outlets are popular among Hong Kong consumers. The most
popular fast food chains in Hong Kong are McDonald?s, KFC and Pizza Hut. There are also
some large local fast food chains such as Café De Coral, Maxim?s and Fairwood that serve
both Chinese and western foods. Competition among fast food chains is intense, as they
each try to keep meal prices competitive. The average cost is around US$3.5 for breakfast,
US$4 for lunch, US$2.5 for afternoon tea and US$6.5 for dinner. To further meet
competition, many fast food operators have renovated their outlets to make them look
more modern, spacious and attractive. To meet the demand of a growing number of
health-conscious customers, fast food chains have also introduced more new ingredients
and developed healthy-food options such as salads, fruits, and fresh juices.
Coffee Shops: The coffee shop market continues to grow in Hong Kong?s commercial
areas. The two largest coffee house outlets are Starbucks operating 109 outlets and Pacific
Coffee operating 89 outlets. Most shops also offer basic menus consisting of muffins,
pastries, cakes, sandwiches, and bottled beverages (juices and water). McDonalds has also
vigorously expanded its McCafe in order to gain share in this growing market. Of its 221
outlets, 66 include a McCafe inside their shops.
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Growing Trend ? Healthy Eating: Hong Kong?s food culture is ?fresh?. Consumer
preference for fresh and live products is due to tradition, as well as concern about food
safety. Hong Kong consumers are increasingly health conscious. Hong Kong has over 50
small to medium size health food stores. The two leading supermarket chains (Wellcome
and ParknShop) and drug store chains (Manning?s and Watson?s) also sell natural/organic
products at their outlets. The growth of ?Mix? ? a juice bar that also serves food is a good
example of a successful ?healthy? restaurant chain. Organic foods are also gaining
popularity as evidenced by the growth of specialized retail outlets for organic foods. There
is increasing opportunity for U.S. products and ingredients in this sector.
The number of hotels and available rooms in Hong Kong is growing.
Table 2. Hong Kong: Growth Hotels, Hostels and Guesthouses (2009-2010)
2009 2010 Growth
Number of hotels/guesthouses 758 794 +4.7%
Number of rooms 65,386 66,354 +1.5%
Room occupancy rate 77% 87% -
(Source: Hong Kong Census & Statistics Department)
According to the latest report (in 2009) of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, tourists spent
more than US$1.37 billion on food and beverages.
Many five-star hotels serve U.S. beef, chicken, turkey, pork, eggs, fish and seafood
products, fruits and vegetables, processed products and beverages.
The Hong Kong Government (HKG) provides a searchable list of licensed Hotels & Guest
A list of Hong Kong hotels are available at:
Institutions like schools, hospitals, and airlines are serviced by a small number of large
catering groups who are generally affiliated with the restaurant sector. These caterers
mainly source their ingredients from China where supplies are cheaper and more
abundant. They also use ingredients from other countries such as the U.S. when they
cannot find the same quality products in China.
Schools: As school regulators prohibit primary and lower secondary students from eating
their lunch out, students must pack their lunch boxes or subscribe to a school lunch box
program. According to the latest statistics (academic year 2009/2010) of the Education
Bureau, there were 582 primary schools and 523 secondary schools, having a total of
344,748 primary students and 238,026 lower secondary students. About 70% of students
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join a school lunch program. A typical lunch box consists of some kind of meat, rice and
some cooked vegetables. The annual cost of Hong Kong?s school lunch program is
estimated at US$250 million. Healthy eating programs are underway to encourage a change
in eating trends for school children. Caterers must register with the Hong Kong Food and
Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) before they are eligible to bid tenders provided
by individual schools. ATO Hong Kong can provide U.S. exporters with the list of registered
caterers for school lunch boxes.
Hospitals: The Hospital Authority operates 41 hospitals with a total of around 27,000 beds
and staff size of 58,000. The catering services for hospitals are outsourced on a tender
basis; many of which also operate restaurants, fast food chains or school lunch catering
Airlines: There are three aircraft catering franchisees at the Hong Kong International
Airport, each with a 15-year term. The aircraft caterers provide a comprehensive range of
flight catering services. These services include the preparation and assembly of flight
meals, loading and unloading of food and other catering loads onto aircraft, and the storage
of catering equipment and supplies.
Table 3. Hong Kong: Airline Catering
Size Capacity (meals/day)
Catering Franchisee (sq. m.)
Cathay Pacific Catering Services 50,400 80,000
Lufthansa Service Hong Kong Ltd 15,000 30,000
Gate Gourmet Hong Kong Ltd 8,850 10,000
(Source: Hong Kong Airport Authority)
Hong Kong?s economy continued to grow in 2010, particularly with the continued influx of
investment from Mainland China. GDP and per capita GDP grew by 7.8% and 6.8% and
reached US$224 billion and US$31,709 respectively in 2010.
Table 4. Hong Kong: Gross Domestic Product and GDP per capita
2009 2010 10 vs 09
GDP US$208 billion US$224 billion +7.8%
GDP per capita US$29,695 US$31,709 +6.8%
Hong Kong?s population was around 7 million in 2010. 1.73 million, or 47% of the total
labor force, are women. The large number of employed women is an important influence
on the demand in the restaurant business.
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Table 5. Hong Kong: Labor Force Participation
2009 % of Total 2010 % of Total
Labor Force-Men 1.96 million 53% 1.95 million 53%
Labor Force-Women 1.74 million 47% 1.73 million 47%
Total 3.7 million 100% 3.68 million 100%
(Source: Hong Kong Census & Statistics Department)
Imported Foods vs. Domestic Products
Due to limited land resources and having a population of 7 million, Hong Kong relies on
imports for over 95% of it food supply. According to the latest statistics (in 2009) of the
Agricultural Fisheries and Conservation Department, the local agricultural industry produced
US$72 million worth of products. It is comprised of US$30 million in crop production
(mainly vegetables), US$19 million in livestock production, and US$23 million in poultry
production. Local production accounted for 2.4 percent of fresh vegetables, 53.7 percent of
live poultry and 6.2 percent of live pigs consumed in the territory.
Due to its central location, free port status and position as a regional purchasing and
distribution center, a significant amount of Hong Kong imports are re-exported.
Table 6. Hong Kong: Imports (2006-2010) of Consumer Oriented Agricultural Products
(COAP) & Seafood
in Growth Re-exports as
10 v a % of Gross
Rank Supplier (US$ Million) 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2010 09 Imports
The World Gross Imports 7,647 9,098 11,544 12,826 15,270 100% 19%
Re-exports 1,775 2,435 3,409 3,824 4,427 100% 16% 29%
Imports 5,873 6,663 8,135 9,001 10,843 100% 20%
1 United Gross Imports 875 1,042 1,615 1,972 2,766 18% 40%
States Re-exports 220 328 609 752 1,155 26% 54% 42%
Imports 655 715 1,006 1,220 1,611 15% 32%
2 China Gross Imports 1,854 2,007 2,215 2,446 2,735 18% 12%
Re-exports 296 309 356 334 392 9% 17% 14%
Imports 1,558 1,698 1,859 2,112 2,344 22% 11%
3 Brazil Gross Imports 645 989 1,441 1,575 1,415 9% -10%
Re-exports 273 491 630 737 658 15% -11% 46%
Imports 372 498 811 838 757 7% -10%
4 Japan Gross Imports 485 573 603 709 971 6% 37%
Re-exports 38 36 41 43 51 1% 17% 5%
Imports 446 536 562 665 920 8% 38%
5 France Gross Imports 147 251 385 446 688 5% 54%
Re-exports 39 88 111 115 162 4% 41% 24%
Imports 108 164 274 331 526 5% 59%
6 Australia Gross Imports 485 529 613 682 659 4% -3%
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Re-exports 41 58 59 91 83 2% -8% 13%
Imports 444 470 553 591 576 5% -3%
7 Thailand Gross Imports 338 410 486 590 527 3% -11%
Re-exports 161 226 267 350 288 7% -18% 55%
Imports 177 184 219 240 239 2% 0%
8 Canada Gross Imports 208 217 342 312 394 3% 26%
Re-exports 26 43 133 104 133 3% 27% 34%
Imports 182 173 209 207 261 2% 26%
9 Netherlands Gross Imports 166 211 306 323 386 3% 20%
Re-exports 34 60 100 95 91 2% -4% 24%
Imports 132 151 206 228 295 3% 30%
10 Iran Gross Imports 152 172 160 147 366 2% 150%
Re-exports 67 73 53 69 129 3% 88% 35%
Imports 85 99 107 78 237 2% 205%
Total of Gross Imports 5,354 6,402 8,165 9,201 10,908 71% 19%
Top 10 Re-exports 1,196 1,713 2,359 2,691 3,142 71% 17% 29%
Suppliers Imports 4,158 4,689 5,806 6,511 7,766 72% 19%
Total of Gross Imports 2,293 2,697 3,379 3,624 4,362 29% 20%
Rest of Re-exports 579 722 1,050 1,134 1,285 29% 13% 29%
The World Imports 1,714 1,974 2,329 2,491 3,077 28% 24%
(Source: Calculations based on World Trade Atlas data)
(Retained Imports = Gross Imports into Hong Kong ? Re-exports out of Hong Kong)
Thanks to the fast-growing economy and consumer affluence, total retained imports of
consumer-oriented agricultural products (COAP) and Seafood products in Hong Kong grew
by 20% in 2010.
The U.S. took over China and became the largest supplier of COAP and Seafood products to
Hong Kong in 2010. Retained imports of these products from China and the U.S. in 2010
reached US$2.3 billion and US$1.6 billion, representing market shares of 22% and 15%
Hong Kong?s status as a gateway for trade with China and Macau are increasingly opening
up greater avenues for U.S. high value food products. In 2010, Hong Kong imported over
US$15 billion COAP and Seafood from the world and re-exported 29% of these products.
Around 52% of all these re-exports went to China and 9% went to Macau. (Source: Hong
Kong Census and Statistics Department).
Outlook in 2011
Although Hong Kong enjoyed strong economic growth in 2010, inflation is expected to rise
and negatively impact its future economic growth. In addition, Mainland China is expected
to take measures to curb its growing inflation in 2011 and these measures could slow down
the influx of investment and Hong Kong?s economic growth. The Hong Kong Government
forecasts that economic growth at 4.5% in 2011.
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However, post expects that U.S. products will continue to fair better than its competitors
due to competitive U.S. prices and consumer confidence in the quality and safety of U.S.
products. In addition, the Hong Kong dollar link to the U.S. dollar provides much needed
foreign exchange stability among food importers. It is expected that Hong Kong will remain
one of the top 4 markets for U.S. consumer ready food products in 2011, as it continues to
be a major buying center and transshipment point for China and Southeast Asia.
1. Import Duties & Import Certificates
With the exception of spirits, all food and beverage products can be imported to Hong Kong
duty free. Technical requirements for imports vary significantly according to the product.
Products which require import permits/health certificates include meat, milk and frozen
confections. The Hong Kong Government (HKG) also plans to implement a health
certification requirement for eggs and seafood products. Currently, the HKG accepts import
applications from Hong Kong importers. In other words, local importers and not U.S.
exporters are required to apply for import permits. U.S. exporters need to supply their
agents/importers with necessary documentation such as health certificates from the U.S.
government. For details on Hong Kong?s general import regulations for food products,
please refer to GAIN Report #0026. (This report is available at:
2. New Nutritional Labeling Law
Hong Kong?s Legislative Council on May 28, 2008 passed a nutrition labeling regulation,
which took effect July 1, 2010. Hong Kong?s nutrition labeling regulation requires all
prepackaged food sold in Hong Kong have to label the contents energy plus seven nutrients
namely; protein, carbohydrate, fat, saturated fat, trans fat, sodium and sugars. Products
selling less than 30,000 units a year can apply for small volume exemption provided that
the products do not carry any nutritional claims. Traders applying for exemption have to
pay HK$345 (US$44) per product variety for the first year and HK$335 (US$43) for annual
Hong Kong?s nutrition labeling regulation is unique; as all imported foods making nutrition
claims from all sources will have to be re-labeled for the Hong Kong market. Despite the
U.S. requiring the labeling of 15 energy/nutrients, U.S. products still cannot meet the Hong
Kong nutrition labeling requirements due to different nutrient definitions, rounding
practices, and recommendations for daily consumption. Virtually all U.S. products carrying
claims will require labeling changes and/or nutrient testing.
Details of the regulation are contained in the Technical Guidance Notes on Nutrition Labeling
and Nutrition Claims, which is available at:
Further supplementary information will be provided in the form of FAQ on the Hong Kong
government?s Center for Food Safety website: http://www.cfs.gov.hk/eindex.html
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For more information on the impact of Hong Kong?s nutrition labeling regulation, please see
reports HK0011, HK8017, HK7011, & HK0011. (These reports are available at:
3. Preservatives Regulations
Hong Kong amended its Preservatives Regulation, which became effective July 1, 2008. A
two-year transitional period for compliance ended on June 30, 2010. Compared to the
original regulation, the new regulation no longer allows for the use of propyl para-
hydroxybenzoate, but additionally allows the use of the following preservatives:
Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ)
Another change brought about by the amendment to the regulation is the adoption of a food
category system based on Codex?s General Standard for Food Additives (GSFA) and the
incorporation of those preservatives and antioxidants, as well as their permitted levels of
use, in GSFA.
To help trade better understand the amended regulation, the HKG issued a ?User
Guideline?, which provides the definition of each food category of the newly adopted food
category system. Also, the Guidelines include some questions and answers pertaining to
the amended regulations. The full Guidelines are available at the following website:
Hong Kong?s Preservatives Regulation adopts the principle of a positive list. In other words,
Hong Kong does not allow any preservatives or antioxidants in foods if they are not
expressly permitted by the Preservatives Regulation. The list of permitted preservatives
and their maximum permitted levels may be retrieved from the following website:
More information on the amended Preservatives Regulation, please see gain reports
HK#8021 & HK#7018. (These reports are available at:
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4. Biotech Food Related Regulations
The HKG does not have any specific biotechnology regulations with regard to the labeling of
biotech food products. The HKG makes no distinction between conventional and biotech
foods. All are subject to the same food safety regulation.
The HKG, after evaluating the impact of its voluntary labeling scheme for biotech food
products, released its conclusions to the Legislative Council on July 8, 2008, suggesting
there is no need for a mandatory labeling law in Hong Kong. The HKG noted difficulty in
carrying out a law that currently does not have an international standard to back it up. As
a result of its evaluation, the HKG plans to continue to promote voluntary labeling of GMO
products as a viable alternative for the trade.
The HKG released a set of guidelines on voluntary labeling for biotech foods in 2006. The
guidelines on labeling for biotech foods are advisory in nature and do not have any legal
effect. Adoption is entirely voluntary and is not binding. The guidelines apply to
prepackaged food and are based on the following four principles:
The labeling of biotech food will comply with the existing food legislation.
The threshold level applied in the guideline for labeling purpose is 5 percent, in
respect of individual food ingredient.
Additional declaration on the food label is recommended when significant
modifications of the food, e.g. composition, nutrition value, level of anti-nutritional
factors, natural toxicant, presence of allergen, intended use, introduction of an
animal gene, etc, have taken place.
Negative labeling is not recommended.
As the guideline is voluntary, U.S. food exports should not be affected if they choose not to
have any biotech labeling. However, it should be noted that the HKG does not encourage
negative labeling particularly for the use of the following terms:
Free from GM ingredients, etc
For products with such definite negative labeling, the HKG may take the initiative to test the
products against GM ingredients and zero tolerance will be adopted for testing purposes. If
products are found to have misleading labeling, a retailer may be subject to prosecution
under Section 61 ? False Labeling and Advertisement of Food or Drugs of Chapter 132
Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance. (Available at
If the trade chooses to apply negative labeling, the government advises to use less definite
terms such as ?sourced from non-GM sources? (which contains less than 5 percent of GM
content) and to have documentation to substantiate such declaration.
For more details on the voluntary labeling guidelines and biotechnology in Hong Kong,
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please refer to Gain Report HK#0009 & HK#6026 respectively. (These reports are available
Hong Kong passed a Genetically Modified Organisms (Control of Release) Ordinance and the
Genetically Modified Organisms (Documentation for Import and Export) Regulation in March
2010 and November 2010 respectively. With the expected commencement of the
Ordinance and the Regulation in March 2011, there will be documentation requirements for
shipments containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). GMOs in the Ordinance are
referred to as LMOs or living modified organisms. Shipments containing GMOs will need to
be accompanied by documentation containing the following information:
If the identity of the GMO is known, the shipment contains such a GMO; if the
identity of the GMO is not known, the shipment may contain such a GMO;
The GMO is not intended for release into the environment;
The common name, scientific name and, where available, commercial name of the
The transformation event code of the GMO or, where available, its unique identifier
The details of the importer or exporter (such as name, address and contact
information) for further information.
There is no specific requirement regarding the form of documentation accompanying GMO
shipments. The use of a commercial invoice or other documents required by existing
documentation systems would be sufficient.
Table 7. Hong Kong: Summary of the Key Strengths and Challenges for the Market
Hong Kong is one of the top markets in the U.S. food products are not always price
world for food and beverages, processed, competitive. China is the largest competitor of
fresh and frozen gourmet products. U.S. U.S. food products.
exports of HVFB products to Hong Kong
reached US$2.1 billion, consolidating Hong
Kong?s position as the 4th largest market for
the U.S. in 2010.
Hong Kong is a major trading hub where Lengthy transportation time and availability of
buyers make purchasing decisions for product due to seasonality (e.g. fresh produce)
hundreds of millions of dollars of consumer associated to importing U.S. food and beverage
oriented products that are transshipped to products to Hong Kong can make them less
China and other parts of Asia. competitive than products available in the region
or from China, Australia New Zealand (favorable
in terms of location).
U.S. food products enjoy an excellent The importance of Hong Kong as a transshipment
reputation among Hong Kong consumers, as point and buying center for China and elsewhere
they are renowned for high quality and food is not widely known to U.S. exporters.
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The U.S. is the 2nd largest supplier of agricultural, Hong Kong labeling and residue
fisheries and forestry products to Hong Kong. For standards differ in some cases, which can
HVFB products, the U.S. overtook China as the largest impede trade.
supplier to Hong Kong in 2010.
Technical barriers to imports of U.S. products are Numerous HK food regulations are not in
generally very low. line with Codex, which can complicate
There is a wide variety of U.S. products available to While Hong Kong has one of the busiest
Hong Kong consumers (over 30,000 different items). container terminals in the world, it also
has the most expensive port handling
The link between the Hong Kong Dollar (HKD) to the Hong Kong?s top supermarkets are a
U.S. Dollar help insulate the HKD from currency duopoly that often request slotting fees.
In general, implementation and application of Inflation is on the rise in Hong Kong. The
regulations is transparent and open. increase in food prices may cause some
consumers to turn to more lower-price
lower-quality food products where U.S.
products do not enjoy strong competitive
Hong Kong exporters choose to work with Hong Kong
importers and distributers to get their products to
Mainland China because of Hong Kong?s dependable
legal system, financial system and rule of law.
Most trans-shipments to Macau are purchased,
consolidated and shipped via Hong Kong.
Demand is increasing most rapidly for ?healthy? and
gourmet foods, market segments where the U.S. is
Hong Kong concerns over food safety have made U.S.
food products as a top choice for quality and safety.
Hong Kong?s modern and efficient port terminal and
free port status make it an attractive destination and
Hong Kong is a ?quality? and trend driven market so
price is not always the most important factor for food
and beverage purchases.
Hong Kong is a dynamic market with a sophisticated
international community where new high quality
products are readily accepted.
Hong Kong is dependent on imports for meeting its
food needs. With continued economic growth, U.S.
high value food & beverage (HVFB) exports to Hong
Kong grew by 24% in 2010 compared to 2009 and
consolidated Hong Kong?s position as our 4th largest
market for HVFB products in the world.
Biotech products are freely imported and products
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containing biotech ingredients are generally not
Lack of local production means virtually no
protectionist pressures for food and agricultural
Hong Kong is in an economically vibrant region and its
economy is expected to grow by 4.5% in 2011.
Hong Kong?s duopolistic supermarkets have a wide
distribution network. Cold chain and distribution
channels for food products are generally efficient and
dependable, as is the customs clearance process.
SECTION II. ROAD MAP FOR MARKET ENTRY
Exporting and Selling
Since very few hotels, restaurants or institutions import directly from exporters, most
suppliers sell to importers for further distribution to the HRI sector in this market.
Establishing a Business in Hong Kong
If U.S. restaurant chains or caterers want to establish a stronger foothold in Hong Kong, they are
allowed to incorporate freely. However, there are two market entry channels that U.S. companies
may consider in their attempt to establish a presence in Hong Kong?s HRI sector.
The concept of franchising has been growing in Hong Kong for the past decade. Nearly 80
% of the franchise operations in Hong Kong are of U.S. origin. Home-grown franchises
have also developed, especially in catering.
2. Joint Ventures
Joint ventures or strategic alliances can be very helpful in entering the market, and are
particularly important in competing for major catering projects.
In order to attract foreign investment, the HKG set up a special department called ?Invest
Hong Kong? to help overseas companies establish a presence in Hong Kong by providing all
the support needed to establish and expand their operations (www.investhk.gov.hk).
Entering the Hong Kong market with products suitable for the HRI trade can be handled in a
number of ways. Certainly the end customer, the hotel, restaurant, institution or caterer
has an influence on the selection of products or ingredients but the choice is all very much
guided by a network of reliable and trusted suppliers.
3. Setting up a Representative Office
One of the most effective but costly means that U.S. companies can use to sell their
products to this market is to set up a representative office in Hong Kong. Information on
how to set up a new business in Hong Kong can be found at:
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4. Appointing Agents
U.S. exporters may consider hiring a local agent. A key consideration is whether the
prospective agent has a good marketing record and widespread distribution network. The
advantage of having an agent is that it can help with marketing and distribution. Some
companies may secure a very competitive price package with TV, magazine and radio for
advertisements. In addition, well-established companies have extensive distribution
networks not limited to the HRI sector but also to retail outlets.
Importers and distributors tend to focus on specific categories of products and end
markets. Research should be carried out to ensure the importer/distributor selected is
appropriate for your products.
Identify key players for the products - ATO Hong Kong can provide lists of importers,
distributors, commodity cooperators and regional business groups.
Test marketing maybe required prior to establishing a presence in the market.
Communicate product benefits to end-users - although distributors maintain the
relationships with their customers, end users assert influence over the buying decisions. It
is important to directly educate all stakeholders as to the features and benefits of your
Participate in or visit trade shows ? Hong Kong has an excellent reputation of hosting
international trade shows. In cooperation with cooperators and regional groups, the shows
will demonstrate the versatility and safety of U.S. food products. Some major shows
Table 8. Hong Kong: Trade Shows Featuring Food & Agricultural Products
HOFEX 2011 http://www.hofex.com May 11-14, 2011
Natural Products Expo Asia http://www.naturalproductsasia.com Aug 25-27, 2011
Restaurant and Bar http://www.restaurantandbarhk.com Sep 6-8, 2011
Asian Seafood Exposition http://www.asianseafoodexpo.com Sep 6-8, 2011
Asia Fruit Logistica http://www.asiafruitlogistica.com Sep 7-9, 2011
4th Hong Kong Int?l Wine & Spirits Fair http://hkwinefair.hktdc.com Nov 3-5, 2011
Wine & Gourmet Asia (Macau) http://www.wineandgourmetasia.com/ Nov 10-12, 2011
AgriPro Asia Expo http://www.verticalexpo.com/eeditor/index.php?expo_id=8 Nov 30-Dec 2, 2011
Stage menu promotions with major restaurant chains - Menu promotion dollars will be
maximized if spent on promotion events held with the major restaurant chains. With the
restaurant chains? announced intention to have an image overhaul, this provides for an
opportunity to introduce new U.S. foods.
Invite restaurant owners/chefs to seminars and/or to the U.S. - ATO Hong Kong/
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cooperators organize seminars and trade missions to the U.S. with an intention to introduce
U.S. products, meet U.S. exporters, and share with them food service operations in the U.S.
Small to medium sized U.S. food companies wishing to export their products can get funding
assistance from the USDA Market Access Program (MAP). The reimbursement rates for branded
promotions are equal to the percentage of U.S. origin content of the promoted agricultural
commodity or a rate of 50 percent, whichever is the lesser. If you are a producer or exporter and
want to participate in the MAP, please contact a trade association that represents your specific
product. If no trade association is applicable, please contact one of the four State regional trade
groups: Food Export USA - Northeast (FEUSA), Food Export Association of the Midwest USA (FEA),
Southern US Trade Association (SUSTA), and Western US Agricultural Trade Association
(WUSATA). For details of the MAP program and a list of trade associations, please contact our
office or visit the website: http://www.fas.usda.gov/mos/programs/maptoc.html
Importer / Distributor / Wholesaler
Hong Kong HRI Trade
The market structure for Hong Kong typically involves a dedicated importer/distributor who
deals with the U.S. exporter and maintains relationships with local resellers. Some special
items are imported directly by large hotels, restaurant chains and institutions but most tend
to outsource the import burden.
Hong Kong is a mature trading port and as such has developed an effective network of
importers, distributors and wholesalers that support the HRI trade.
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Most major importers/distributors service multiple reseller sectors including HRI/food
service, retail and wet markets.
ATO Hong Kong has a resourceful database of Hong Kong importers servicing the HRI
trade. For information regarding specific category suppliers, the ATO Hong Kong can
provide additional information.
Given below is a partial list of catering franchises in Hong Kong
Name of Franchise No. of Outlets
Ajisen-Ramen (catering - Japanese noodles restaurant) 32
Coffee Chateau (catering - retail of coffee and tea) 1
Double Star (catering - coffee shop) 4
Genki Sushi (catering - Japanese restaurant/takeaway 34
Grappa's Ristorante (catering - Italian restaurant) 3 (+ 1 wine bar)
Hui Lau Shan (catering - herbal tea house and health food) 45
Hung Fook Tong (catering - herbal tea house) 82
Jollibee (catering ? restaurant) 1
Kentucky Fried Chicken (catering - fast food restaurant) 68
Kung Wo Tong (catering - herbal tea house) 10
Kung Wo Beancurd Products (catering - beancurd drinks and products) 6
Magic House Superstore Ltd (catering - ice cream and snacks) 47
McDonald's (catering - fast food restaurant) 221
Mian Cafe (catering - cafe) 7
Mrs. Fields Cookies (catering ? bakery) 13
Pie & Tart Specialists (catering - pie and tart) 12
Pizza Box (catering - pizza delivery) 15
Pizza Hut Restaurants (catering - restaurants) 66
Saint?s Alp (catering ? Taiwanese tea house) 9
Strawberry Forever (catering - western dessert house) 2
TGI Friday's (catering - restaurant) 1
Yoshinoya (catering - Japanese restaurant) 48
Given below is a partial list of restaurants in Hong Kong
Company Name Type of Food No. of Outlets
Maxims Chinese Restaurants /fast food / Max Concepts / 409
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McDonalds Fast Food - Burgers 221 (66 McCafe)
Café de Coral Chinese fast food / lunch boxes 148
Fairwood Chinese Fast food 98
KFC Fast Food - Chicken 68
Starbucks Coffee & snacks 109
Pizza Hut Pizza, local menu 66 (31
Pacific Coffee Coffee & Snacks 89
Deli France Bakery, Fast Food Sandwiches 36
Steak Expert Steak house 24
Spaghetti House International 25
Epicurean International 21
Igor?s Group International 31
Lan Kwai Fong International 5
Oliver?s Super Sandwich Fast Food Sandwiches / Salads 19
Mix California Smoothies & Wraps 9
Pret a Manger Fast Food Sandwiches / Salads 8
Chiram Restaurants Ltd International 6
Eclipse Management International 10
Outback Steakhouse Australian / American style Steak House 7
Red Ant Chinese 8
Elite Concepts International 8
California Pizza Kitchen American style pizza 4
Dan Ryan?s American Style dining 3
Ruby Tuesday?s American Style dining 4
Burger King Fast Food - Burgers 15
Jimmy?s Kitchen International 2
Ruth?s Chris Steakhouse American Style Steak House 2
Bubba Gump American Style dining 1
Harlan?s International 1
Lawry?s The Prime Rib American Steak House 1
Morton?s the Steakhouse American Steak House 1
TGI Fridays American Style dining 1
Tony Roma?s American Style dining 2
SECTION III. COMPETITION
Note: Trade Statistics for 2010; Market Share in terms of Gross Import Value
Source: World Trade Atlas ? Hong Kong Census & Statistics Department
Page 16 of 28
Table 11. Major Product Categories of Hong Kong?s
Imports of COAP and Seafood Products And Competition
Product Category Major Strengths of Key Supply Advantages and
Supply Countries Disadvantages of
Sources Local Suppliers
Red Meats, 1. Brazil ? Products from Brazil and China are Local production is
chilled/frozen 30% price competitive, but they are of largely on freshly
different market segments from slaughtered meats.
Imports 2. U.S. ? U.S. products.
US$2.5 billion 15%
1,206,000 MT U.S. market share dropped from
3. China ? 21% in 2003 to 3% in 2005 as a
Retained Imports 11% result of the ban on U.S. bone-in
US$1.4 billion beef. Market share of U.S. beef
404,000 MT 4. Germany gradually picked up following Hong
? 8% Kong?s opening to U.S. beef since
the beginning of 2006. Hong Kong
currently allows U.S. boneless beef
derived from animals less than 30
months of age.
Bone-in beef and offals from the
U.S. are not yet allowed entry into
Hong Kong. Hong Kong
Government adopts zero tolerance
on bone fragments.
U.S. beef is highly regarded in
Hong Kong. It is always the top
choice for high-end restaurants and
sophisticated consumers. U.S. beef
is largely for the high-end market.
Red Meats, 1. China ? Chinese supplies dominate the Local production is
Prepared/preserved 31% market because there is a big insignificant.
demand for price competitive
Imports 2. U.S. ? prepared/preserved meatballs and
US$612 million 13% other products typical in Chinese
326,000 MT dishes in Chinese restaurants and
3. Spain ? processing in China is cost
Retained Imports 10% effective.
US$496 million About 51% of the U.S. preserved
248,600 MT red meat exports to Hong Kong
belong to sausages. The U.S. is
the largest supplier of sausages in
the Hong Kong market.
Poultry Meat 1. Brazil ? Brazil became the leading supplier Local production is on
(Fresh, chilled & 36% of poultry for Hong Kong market in freshly slaughtered
frozen) 2004, when Hong Kong banned meats.
2. U.S. ? entry of U.S. poultry products
Imports 34% (between February 11, 2004 and HRI sector tends to
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US$1.7 billion April 30, 2004) due to outbreaks of use chilled and frozen
1,150,000 MT 3. China ? Avian Influenza cases in the U.S. chicken products
14% Though the ban was then lifted, rather than freshly
Retained Imports Brazil continues to be the largest slaughtered chickens
US$822 million supplier due to price because the latter are
379,776 MT competitiveness of its products and far more expensive.
established business relationship
between Brazilian exporters and
Hong Kong importers.
The depreciation of U.S. dollar
attracted more imports of U.S.
products to Hong Kong and market
share of the U.S. grew more
significantly & reached 34% in
Hong Kong?s new certification
requirement for U.S. chicken feet,
which took effect in May 2005, has
reduced U.S. chicken feet supplies
to Hong Kong. By the new
requirement, U.S. chicken feet are
required to have ante mortem and
post mortem inspection.
Dairy Products 1. Netherlands is strong in dairy Local companies
Netherlands product supplies and it has supply fresh milk
Imports ? 27% established position in Hong Kong. drinks, which are
US$677 million processed in Hong
175,420 MT 2. Ireland ? Dairy products from Netherlands Kong with milk
17% and New Zealand primarily include originated from
Retained Imports concentrated dairy and cream. farmlands in the
US$594 million 3. Japan ? southern part of China.
159,852 MT 15% Chinese dairy products to Hong
Kong primarily include not- Local companies can
concentrated milk and cream. easily fulfill local milk
U.S. ? 1% registration
Dairy products from the U.S. requirements.
primarily include ice cream.
Melamine was found in eggs and
dairy products from China and that
has led consumers to pay more
attention to food safety and seek
high quality products from other
Eggs 1. China ? Eggs from China are price Local production is
59% competitive. However, since 2006, insignificant.
Imports when some Chinese eggs were
US$128 million 2. U.S. ? found tainted with Sudan red
1.9 billion eggs 18% (which is a dye for industrial use),
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Hong Kong consumers lost
Retained Imports 3. Thailand confidence in the safety of all
US$126 million ? 8% Chinese eggs.
1.89 billion eggs
U.S. dominates the white egg
Melamine was found in eggs and
dairy products from China and that
has led consumers to pay more
attention to food safety and seek
high quality products from other
Fresh Fruit 1. U.S. ? U.S. fresh fruits are highly No local production.
31% regarded as having good
US$1.26 billion 2.
1,278,410 MT Thailand Thai Trade commission in Hong
? 20% Kong aggressively sponsors
Retained trade promotion activities.
Imports 3. Chile ? Thai?s tropical fruits are very
US$663 million 15% popular in Hong Kong.
Chile?s biggest fruit item to
Hong Kong is grapes. The
supplying season is different
from the U.S.
Fresh 1. China Products from China are very Local production is about 5 % of
Vegetables ?69% price competitive. Due to total demand. Production costs,
expensive operation costs in both in terms of land and labor, in
Imports 2. U.S. ? Hong Kong, some farmers in Hong Kong are high. The Hong
US$218 million 9% Hong Kong move their Kong Government has encouraged
625,210 MT operations to China and sell organic farming so as to find the
3. S. their products back to Hong niche market for local vegetables.
Retained Korea ? Kong.
US$208 million High-end restaurants and five-
615,948 MT star hotels prefer to use high
quality U.S. products. A lower
U.S. dollar value helps U.S.
exports to Hong Kong.
Processed 1. China Supplies from China are price Local production is insignificant.
Fruit & ? 31% competitive. Besides, some
Vegetables international brands have
2. U.S. ? operations in China and their
Imports 29% exports to Hong Kong are
US$382 million considered as imports from
237,400 MT 3. China.
Retained ? 9% Products from the U.S. are more
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Imports for the high-end market. Potato
US$272million chips and French fries are major
179,319 MT U.S. export categories to Hong
Tree Nuts 1. U.S. ? 46% of the tree nuts imported No local production
61% to Hong Kong are pistachios.
US$1.2 billion 2. Iran ? The U.S. is very strong in
284,250 MT 30% supplying almonds, walnuts,
hazelnuts and pistachios.
Retained 3. Mexico
Imports ? 2% Some of the imports are re-
US$719 million exported to China for
127,417 MT processing.
Wine 1. France France is the major supplier for Hong Kong has insignificant wine
? 58% wine. French wine is highly production.
Imports regarded in Hong Kong though
US$858 million 2. U.K. ? expensive.
37 million liters 14%
Hong Kong people are becoming
Retained 3. more familiar with California
Imports Australia wine.
US$693 million ? 7%
26 million liters The Hong Kong Government
4. U.S. ? abolished the tax on wine in
5% February 2008. The new policy
has attracted more wine imports
into Hong Kong.
SECTION IV. BEST CONSUMER ORIENTED PRODUCT PROSPECTS
1 95% of Hong Kong food supplies are imported. Since Hong Kong?s domestic
production is nominal the market size in the following table is equal to retained imports
without taking into account local production. U.S. exports to Hong Kong are also
based on imports minus exports.
2 Import tariff rates for all food and beverage products in the tables are zero except for
spirits with alcohol content greater than 30%, which is 100%.
3 Products listed below are either enjoying a large market import value or a significant
growth rate for the last 5 years (2006-2010).
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Table 12. Hong Kong: Top 10 Prospects
Product 2010 2010 2006 ? Key Constraints Over Market
Category Retained Retained 2010 Market Development Attractiveness
Imports Imports Average For USA
(MT) (US$ Annual
Fish & Volume US$2.6 +11.1% Major suppliers of fish U.S. fish and
Seafood statistics billion (value) and seafood products are seafood products are
Products not Japan (18%), perceived as high
available China (15%), Australia quality and safe.
(9%) and the US (6%).
Many 5-star hotels
in Hong Kong are
such as king salmon,
king crab, snow
crab, black cod and
halibut. It is
continue to be
popular among HRI
sector in Hong Kong.
Fresh Fruit 529,556 MT US$663 -2.4% The Hong Kong fresh U.S. fresh fruit are
million (volume) fruit market had negative well known for their
volume growth over the large variety, good
+4.9% past 5 years because of quality and tastes.
(value) bad crops in some
categories. U.S. was the largest
supplier (31%) of
Hong Kong consumers fresh fruit to Hong
prefer fresh fruit to Kong, followed by
frozen fruit. Competition Thailand (20%).
from Thailand and China
is keen as these The top U.S. fruit
countries supply tropical exports to Hong
fresh fruit at competitive Kong were citrus
prices. The shorter products (US$128
travel time for shipments million), grapes
Page 21 of 28
from these countries to (US$96 million),
Hong Kong also render apples (US$67
their products million), cherries
?fresh? to Hong Kong (US$46 million),
consumers. plums, sloes &
These U.S. products
will continue to be
popular among Hong
Poultry 379,776 MT US$822 +5.7% Brazil is the leading U.S. exported
Products million (volume) supplier of poultry for US$581 million
Hong Kong. Brazil worth of chicken
moved in as the no. 1 products to Hong
+21% poultry exporter to Hong Kong, accounting for
(value) Kong when U.S. poultry 34% of the market
imports were temporarily share.
banned during February
11 to April 30, 2004 due U.S. products are
to Avian Influenza cases highly regarded in
in the United States. food quality and
Though the ban was later food safety.
lifted, Brazil continues to More popular U.S.
be the largest supplier chicken products
due to its price include chicken wing
advantage and its mid joints and
exporters? relationships chicken legs because
with Hong Kong of their sizes and
importers. quality. These two
The depreciation of U.S. particularly
dollar attracted more popularly among
imports of U.S. products Hong Kong style
to Hong Kong and cafes.
market share of the U.S.
grew more significantly &
reached 34% in 2010.
Hong Kong?s certification
requirements for U.S.
chicken feet, which took
effect in May 2005,
reduced U.S. chicken
feet supplies to Hong
Kong. By the
chicken feet are required
to have ante mortem and
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post mortem inspection.
Pork 145,376 MT US$413 +0.5% China and Brazil are the U.S. exported
million (volume) top suppliers of pork to US$52 million worth
Hong Kong because their of pork to Hong
products are very price Kong, accounting for
+15% competitive. 10% of the market
There is a big demand
for price competitive U.S. products are
prepared/preserved highly regarded for
meatballs and other quality and food
products typical in safety.
Chinese dishes in
which are made from
pork. China enjoys the
advantage of low
Processed 179,319 MT US$272 +0.77% China is the largest U.S. processed fruit
Fruit & million (volume) supplier (31%), closely and vegetables are
Vegetables followed by the U.S. well known of their
+5.5% (29%). superior quality and
(value) tastes. U.S.
Some international processed fruit and
brands have operations vegetables such as
in China and their potatoes, nuts,
exports to Hong Kong sweet corn,
are considered as mushrooms,
imports from China. peaches and
continue to be in
large demand in
Beef, 87,687 US$317 +16% Because of BSE cases in U.S. exported
Frozen MT million (volume) the U.S., Hong Kong US$98 million worth
currently allows boneless of frozen beef to
+31% beef derived from cattle Hong Kong in 2010,
(value) under 30 months of age accounting for 21%
from U.S. E.V (Export market share.
Verification) approved Although U.S. beef
plants. was banned in Hong
Kong in 2004 and
Bone-in beef and variety 2005, Hong Kong
beef from the U.S. are consumers still have
not yet allowed in. high regards for U.S.
beef in terms of
Currently only 25 plants quality and safety.
have been EV approved
and are eligible to export
beef products to Hong
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Short U.S. beef supplies
make U.S. beef very
Brazil beef took the
opportunity to gain
market share. Brazil
beef imports grew from
US$49 million in 2004 to
US$182 million in 2010.
Wine 26 US$693 +17% Competition is keen in U.S. exported
million liters million (volume) Hong Kong. Major US$46 million of
competitors come from wine to Hong Kong
+79% France and Australia. in 2010, accounting
(value) French wine is for 5.4% of the
traditionally more market share.
popular in Hong Kong.
The HKG abolished
the import tax on
wine and beer in
The HRI sector in
Macau is growing,
making it an
opportunity for U.S.
wine traders to
consumers are more
and more receptive
to wine. The total
elimination of the
excise tax on wine
would probably help
drinking culture in
Tree Nuts 127,417 MT US$719 +32% 46% of the tree nuts No local production
million (volume) imported to Hong Kong
(value) The U.S. is very strong in
hazelnuts and pistachios.
Some of the imports are
re-exported to Vietnam
Page 24 of 28
and China for processing.
Fruit & 18,725 MT US$24 +0.4% The U.S. is still the Given the high
Vegetable million (volume) market leader, exported quality of U.S. fruit
Juices US$8.7 million worth of & vegetable juices,
-3% fresh fruit juices to Hong U.S. fruit and
(value) Kong, accounting for a vegetable juices
market share of 32%. such as orange
juices, apple juices,
tomato juices and
pineapple juices are
expected to continue
to be very popular in
Organic Statistics Statistics Statistics Organic F&B products are As Hong Kong
Food and not not not generally 20-40% higher consumers are
Beverage available available available in prices compared to becoming more
non-organic products. health-conscious,
(The size of the demand for
the Hong There are many organic organic products will
Kong standards in the market continue to grow in
organic and the poor quality of a 2011.
food and country?s organic
beverage products may negatively USDA Organic
market is affect the image of enjoys an excellent
estimated organic products from all reputation among
at US$500 supplying countries. consumers in Hong
million, with Kong. Consumers
an annual generally have more
growth of confidence on USDA
10-15%) Organic standards
are in good demand.
Other products such
as organic meat
(beef and pork),
eggs etc are starting
to have more
interest in the
There is also a
strong demand for
Page 25 of 28
and fruits, organic
coffee and tea
SECTION V. KEY CONTACTS AND FURTHER INFORMATION
Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS)
Home Page: http://www.fas.usda.gov
Agricultural Trade Office
American Consulate General
18th Floor, St. John?s Building
33 Garden Road, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2841-2350
Fax: (852) 2845-0943
Web site: http://www.usconsulate.org.hk
Department to Implement Food Safety Control Policy
Food & Environmental Hygiene Department
43/F., Queensway Govt Offices
66 Queensway, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2868-0000
Fax: (852) 2834-8467
Web site: http://www.fehd.gov.hk
Department to Control the Importation of Plants & Live Animals
Agriculture, Fisheries & Conservation Department
5-8/F., Cheung Sha Wan Govt Offices
303, Cheung Sha Wan Rd
Kowloon, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2708-8885
Fax: (852) 2311-3731
Web site: http://www.afcd.gov.hk
Department to Issue License for Imported Reserved Commodities
Trade & Industry Department
18/F., Trade Department Tower
700 Nathan Road
Kowloon, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2392-2922
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Fax: (852) 2789-2491
Web site: http://www.tid.gov.hk
Department to Register Health Foods Containing Medicine Ingredients
Department of Health
Import & Export Control Section
18th Floor, Wu Chung House
213 Queen?s Road East, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2961-8754
Fax: (852) 2834-5117
Web site: http://www.dh.gov.hk
Department to Issue License for Imported Dutiable Commodities
Hong Kong Customs & Excise Department
Office of Dutiable Commodities Administration
6-9th floors, Harbor Building
38 Pier Road, Central, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2815-7711
Fax: (852) 2581-0218
Web site: http://www.customs.gov.hk
Department for Trade Mark Registration
Intellectual Property Department
Trade Marks Registry
24th and 25th Floors, Wu Chung House
213 Queen?s Road East
Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2803-5860
Fax: (852) 2838-6082
Web site: http://www.ipd.gov.hk
Semi-Government Organization Providing Travel Information
Hong Kong Tourist Board
9th - 11th floors, Citicorp Center,
18 Whitfield Road, North Point, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2807-6543
Fax: (852) 2806-0303
Web site: www.hktourismboard.com
Semi-Government Organization Providing Hong Kong Trade Information
Hong Kong Trade Development Council
38th Floor, Office Tower, Convention Plaza
1 Harbor Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2584-4188
Fax: (852) 2824-0249
Web site: http://www.tdctrade.com
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