Today (20 June) in Shanghai some of the great and good of the global food industry have met at a summit to discuss the opportunities – and challenges – of operating in China and the wider Asian continent.

For three days this week, at the 51st World Food Business Summit, leading executives will get some insight from their peers about their experiences of working in China and Asia.

There is no doubt that China, in particular, now figures heavily in the thinking of multinational consumer goods companies and retailers as they look to capture the prize of selling to potentially over one billion consumers.

The burgeoning wealth of China’s growing middle class, which is also keen to embrace Western goods and services, presents a remarkable opportunity for growth. However, a market that is developing so quickly throws up myriad challenges, from supply and distribution to food safety and to issues of sustainability.

And that’s just in China. Operating in the wider Asian continent has its own issues; to simply compare the challenges of running a business in Beijing to those of working in Bangalore is misguided. Asia houses the emerging markets of China, India and Vietnam, while further north is the mature market of Japan.

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just-food will be there in Shanghai over the course of the three-day conference, giving you the chance to hear the news and views from the event.

Chinese economists will give their views on the macro-economic environment in the country, while the chief executives of retail giants like Metro and Carrefour will outline their views on retailing in China and Asia.

Retailers in China, including local executives from US behemoth Wal-Mart and the international retail franchise Spar, will discuss the workings of the sector in the country, a market where it can be tough to generate substantial margins. Meanwhile, retail bosses from India and Japan will compare notes on what it is like to operate in emerging and mature markets.

And with food safety in China hitting the headlines in recent days, delegates will hear more on the issue and how food safety affects not just those operating in the country but also worldwide.

The world’s multinational food manufacturers and retailers have, in many cases, only been operating in the likes of China, India and Vietnam for a few years. There is a sense that, in many ways, the markets are in a state of flux. Be sure to check our pages in the coming days to hear the latest from your peers on the promise – and the pitfalls – of operating in Asia.