Written by Guan Qiuyun / Translated by Xie Zongming
Some said that Guangxi people start their day with a bowl of rice noodles. Dishes like Liuzhou’s Luosifen rice noodles, Nanning’s Old-friend rice noodles, Yulin’s beef brisket rice noodles, and Guilin’s rice noodles with braised side dishes are daily nutrition, as well as the unique culture of Guangxi and symbols of home. In recent years, with the platform of China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO), the rice noodles craze has not only extended to the ASEAN market, winning overseas customers’ hearts but also driven the economy on the palate that derives into an industry worth billions of RMB.
Fill the CAEXPO with Guangxi rice noodles’ aroma
By stewing the soup with river snails, fennel, dried tangerine peel, pepper, etc., and adding the ingredients like rice noodles, pickled bamboo shoots, black fungus, peanuts, and fried dried bean curd sticks, a bowl of Luosifen with strong flavor is ready to serve. In the public open days of the 18th CAEXPO, visitors crowded the rice noodles section in the exhibition center. “We follow the scent all the way here. We decided to order two boxes of these rice noodles after we tried them. The brands recommended here barely have any complaint since their quality is already proved by the CAEXPO,” said Ms. Huang with a smile, who drives from Guigang to Nanning every year for the CAEXPO since 2017.
In recent years, Guangxi Luosifen has gone viral, making rice noodles a fashion. This delicious food with a stinky smell sells well in both the domestic and the foreign market, such as the ASEAN market. Famous brands like Xiluohui, Haohuanluo, and Luobawang all showed up in the 18th CAEXPO and attracted more than 2,000 trial customers in one hour. “This time, many Liuzhou Luosifen enterprises participate in the exhibition, not only for further promoting this symbol of Liuzhou but also for extending the influence of the brands with the help of CAEXPO,” said Wang Dishi, Marketing Director of Haohuanluo, who added that the company has set up retailers in five ASEAN countries, such as Vietnam. Promoted by this year’s CAEXPO, the company has gained considerable cooperation opportunities. The company aims to cover all ASEAN countries and the license fee for agent cooperation is estimated to reach RMB 1 million yuan.
Ever since its first visit to the CAEXPO in 2017, Laoyanjie, the time-honored brand for Guilin rice noodles, has grabbed the attention of ASEAN customers with its well-designed package, easy cooking process, and unique taste. Its hit products like instant beef noodles and instant braised side dishes noodles entered Southeast Asian online shopping platforms like Lazada, JD Central, and Alibaba after the brand made a name in the CAEXPO, gaining increasing sales year by year. According to the official of Laoyanjie, businessmen from ASEAN countries showed interests in commercial franchise cooperation after being promoted by the 18th CAEXPO. In the future, the company is likely to enter Southeast Asian markets like Thailand and Singapore by setting up offline stores, literally promoting their products to foreign markets and further developing their business in ASEAN markets.
Another attractor in the 18th CAEXPO is the Nanning Old-friend rice noodles, which was listed as the Guangxi Intangible Cultural Heritage. “At first, I’ve only heard of Luosifen rice noodles. It surprised me that the Old-friend rice noodles also have a delicious flavor. I really want to bring this back to Malaysia and share with people there,” said Lim Kah Meng, who is from Malaysia and in charge of a China-Malaysia food trade company. At Tianfuxiang’s booth in the expo, he was able to taste authentic Nanning flavor as well as to sense the business opportunities under this food.
Taking the CAEXPO as the “agent”, all kinds of rice noodles in Guangxi are shifting from street food to symbols of city industry. They are marching to the ASEAN market and getting known to more Southeast Asian foodies.
Innovative forms to advertise Guangxi rice noodles
To better promote brands of Guangxi rice noodles, related merchants participated in the 18th CAEXPO embraced live streaming e-commerce, a currently-popular marketing model in China. The streaming accelerated the promotion. “Today, we bring the exhibition hall to the stream. Here, you can buy the most authentic Guangxi rice noodles of all kinds. Special discounts available during CAEXPO.” On the evening of September 10, Chinese famous streamer Viya was selling Guangxi rice noodles to her audience at the CAEXPO marketing festival. The accumulated audience of the stream reached 18.55 million people. If pre-order payment counted, the turnover of a single kind of Luosifen easily exceeds RMB 2.23 million yuan during this international streaming.
Then, a group of other Guangxi rice noodles brands such as Rice Noodles Bar, Sister Xiu, Guyuanxiang joined a sub-section of the Smart E-commerce section called CAEXPO Shop in the Online CAEXPO. Overseas customers can visit the official online shop at their fingertips and deliver straight orders with one simple click.
In fact, as early as the 17th CAEXPO in 2020, a unique “Myanmar Luosifen” was brought to Myanmar and Chinese customers. At the time, Myanmar cooperated with Liuzhou Luosifen manufacturing base and released the “Love for Hometown” made with Myanmar ground rice. The river snails are removed from the traditional recipe as Myanmar people don’t eat river snails.
“CAEXPO is a window to the world. We wish to use it as an advantaged platform to introduce quality products jointly made by China and Myanmar to ASEAN countries and the world,” said Dr. Shwe Zin Ko, Consul of Commerce of Myanmar Consulate General Nanning.
In CAEXPO, they serve more customers
Compared to other rice noodles in China, Guangxi rice noodles boast their strong aroma and delicious, sour and spicy taste, whose unique flavor proves unforgettable to rice noodles lovers. The question is, how to better utilize the CAEXPO, an advantaged platform, to pave a way towards the ASEAN market and offer authentic Guangxi rice noodles to Southeast Asian people?
Regarding this question, Xiong Chaoxuan, Chairman of ZhongLiu Food Technology Co., Ltd., said that the entry into force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will further develop China-ASEAN trade and CAEXPO is precisely an extension of RCEP’s function in service. It’s like a play where the government offers a stage and lets companies do the performance. If one can keep utilizing CAEXPO as a platform for business promotion, entering the ASEAN market will be a firm step in Guangxi rice noodles’ journey to the overseas market.
“Apart from organizing enterprises to join in large exhibitions like the CAEXPO, keeping with the trend of supplementing and extending the industry chain is of even more significance,” said Jia Jiangong, Deputy Director of Liuzhou Bureau of Commerce. In fact, with the help of CAEXPO, the cooperation of rice noodles industry between China and ASEAN, and between Guangxi and other Chinese provinces has been greatly promoted since the World Rice Noodle Expo in 2019, which gathered specialists about the industry chain of rice noodles and hosted professional exchange events.
The coming World Rice Noodle Expo in 2021 will innovatively set up the Guangxi Featured Rice Noodles Section, the E-commerce section, and sections of related services. The expo will continue to keep up with hot topics in the rice noodles industry and sufficiently utilize the platform of CAEXPO, further facilitating the standardization, brand marketing, and internationalization of the whole industry chain of Guangxi rice noodles.
“I think people should pay attention to the Online CAEXPO. Compared to large companies, small brands that are yet to establish chain stores can benefit from the Online streaming and E-commerce more and the cost of marketing and logistics is reduced,” said Manager He, who directs the Shisanwei Guilin Rice Noodles Project. In his opinion, utilizing the new technologies and platforms such as Online CAEXPO, cross-border e-commerce, and live streaming marketing will extend the business to other markets.
An upgrading CAEXPO makes the China-ASEAN “palate economy” vibrant and allows Guangxi rice noodles, a food backed by an industry of billions of RMB, to be served to more.