A recent surge in the demand for organic products in China is being fuelled by an increased anxiety about the state of food safety in the country, according to a survey conducted last year.

80% of the 3,166 people surveyed said that they were unsatisfied with food safety in China. The survey, conducted by the Beijing research company Horizon Research and Horizonkey across 20 cities in China, also found that around 60% of respondents blamed food companies for the issues – more than food industry associations (50%),  the government (29%) and the media (26%).

The mistrust of home-grown food supplies is not unjust, as the country’s most recent food safety scandals have involved some of China’s largest food producers and suppliers. Add to this the country’s large amounts of pollution in both the air, the soil and its waterways, Chinese consumers are looking towards organic imports as the one of the few alternatives to avoid health scares. China is currently the top importer of Australian organic baby food and formulas – demand that is increasing year on year.

Boutique organic stores such as ‘Green and Safe’ are rising in popularity, especially in more affluent areas of cities such as Shanghai and Beijing – where China’s growing middle class are willing to pay higher prices for ‘safer’ food. Some consumers have resorted to purchasing products direct from farmers or even growing the produce themselves on rented land.

Despite this, organic and imported produce is still out of financial reach for most Chinese consumers, with calls for the government to impose harsher penalties on food companies to provide safe food as a basic human right.