Top Japanese trading company Itochu has formed two strategic partnerships that will further its goal of expanding on the Chinese mainland.

"The change to western style food preferences along coastal mainland China has been dramatic," Itochu said in a statement.

"Such change in demand for products like bread have been growing at 30% a year and naturally we want to be a bigger player in the region from now on and plan further international tie-ups to strengthen the value chain in bakery and in other food related ventures in China."

Together with Japanese bakers Shikishima Baking Co., Itochu has signed a joint venture agreement with leading Chinese food company Ting Hsin International Group to sell bread at China's supermarkets.

Under the agreement a new bakery group will be established with capitalisation of JPY56bn (US$508m). The company will begin bread production at a new facility in Shanghai in 2010, Itochu said.

Itochu has also signed a memorandum of understanding with COFCO, China's largest company operating in the food sector.

COFCO and Itochu will form a comprehensive strategic partnership with the aim of the mutual development.

Specific details of the partnership are still under discussion. The deal is likely to cover manufacturing and processing of food products, distribution, trading (import, export and tripartite trading) and securing food resources.