CANBERRA, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- The sale of fresh Australian produce boomed over the Chinese New Year period, with tech-savvy Chinese buyers using online retailers to plug the gap left by supermarket closures over the busy holiday period.
Online shopping giant JD.com reported a sharp increase in sales of online goods over the holiday period, with the sale of imported goods such as Australian beef, cherries, and kiwifruit increasing by up to 14-fold.
JD.com told Australia's News Corp that, in the long term, it expects "a continued boom in imported food sales as Chinese palates become more sophisticated, and customers become increasingly aware."
Meanwhile JD.com's competitor, Alibaba said Chinese consumers often bought foreign goods online during the New Year period as local businesses often closed so that employees could spend time with family.
"Since many supermarkets in China are closed during the holidays, a lot of confectionery products and fresh produce through our online supermarket proved popular, including crackers, nuts, candies, cherries, kiwi, apples, fresh vegetables, and dumplings," a spokesperson told News Corp.
Recent statistics released by China's Agriculture Ministry showed that while the total value of agricultural imports into China fell in 2016, the sale of livestock and other goods such as wheat - often from Australia - had bucked the trend.
Imports of wheat grew 13.5 percent, while rice and vegetables grew by 5.5 and 2 percent respectively, while livestock imports jumped by almost 15 percent to be worth more than 23 billion US dollars.
Specifically, pork imports rose 110 percent, beef imports rose by 22.4 percent and milk powder grew by 15.2 percent.