UK retailer Waitrose has detailed plans to export own-label products to China after reaching a deal to sell items online. 

The company is making products sold under the Waitrose Duchy Organic and Waitrose Baby brands available via the Royal Mail store on Alibaba Group-owned Tmall Global. Initially 30 products will be on sale in China, including biscuits, cereals and nuts as well as organic and non-food items. The UK retailer will extend its offering in China to include Essential Waitrose and Waitrose 1 items later this year. 

The Royal Mail store “specialises in championing British companies” in China, Waitrose said. There will be a dedicated Waitrose page within the Royal Mail online store with information about the brand and product listings. Waitrose struck the agreement through Avenue51, the company operating Royal Mail’s Tmall store. 

Announcing the news, Waitrose predicted China could become its biggest international business in the next three to five years. 

“The potential for Waitrose in China is huge and although it’s a relatively modest start it’s our ambition to see it become our biggest international business in the next three to five years. We are proud that Waitrose is recognised around the world for quality and excited to be reaching new markets,” Waitrose commercial director Mark Williamson said. 

“Chinese consumers seek out high quality British brands and Alibaba is happy to provide the platform for Waitrose to introduce its products to China’s homes and kitchens. Waitrose joins a number of leading British brands already available through the Royal Mail Store on Tmall Global and we hope that many others will follow given the potential that China offers to their business and the demand that exists for British products,” Amee Chande, managing director for Alibaba’s business in the UK, Ireland and the Nordic markets, said.

China is now the world’s largest e-commerce market.  According to Euromonitor International data, online packaged food sales in China have risen from US$2.83bn in 2012 to $7.26bn in 2014, equating to an average increase nearing 80% a year. 

To read just-food’s analysis looking at how to navigate the fractured Chinese e-commerce sector, click here.