TAIPEI – Iberian pork, which until five years ago was unnoticed in the Taiwanese market, has now become the second highest imported product of the island nation after pork exports from Canada.
Since the opening up of the Taiwanese market to the Iberian pork and other products in 2014, the total value of the Spanish exports – almost all of it frozen – has gone up to $46.7 million from $1.7 million, surpassing competitors such as Denmark and the United States.
The Spanish pork can be found at traditional markets as well as in the supermarket chains, taking over the palate of a demanding Taiwanese pork consumer, who is normally used to indigenous breeds and high quality meat.
“Pork meat is one of the majorly expanding products on the island at the moment,” Jose Luis Echaniz, head of Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan, said.
Jamon Iberico or Iberian ham – another pork product – has become a craze and a status symbol that can be found in high-end restaurants and gourmet supermarket chains of the island.
Evonne Wang of J-Deli (J of Jamon) – one of the pioneering companies in the sales of sausages and high quality Spanish cheese – said it is a trendy product, characteristic of the Spanish culture, “very different from that of Taiwan.”
In her opinion, one has to make sure that people should, “eat it not only to fill their stomach but like an art, something beautiful and important.”
Echaniz added that not only food but also vehicles manufactured in Spain along with medicines, leather goods, traditional vine, olive oil and jamon have become popular products.
Taiwan has increased its knowledge of wine and its demands, and has moved from the predominance of the bulk exports to bottling with high prices.
Kellie Chen, a wine importer for the last 30 years, pointed out that Spain has become the second largest suppliers of wines in Taiwan.
Thanks to the hard work of the importers and the Chamber of Commerce, Chen said, people now know that the relation between price and quality of Spanish wine is strong.
Chen added that culture should be combined with wines and “great food” of Spain.
Other areas where Spanish products are flooding Taiwanese markets include cosmetics which can be seen in perfumery chains, large stores along with online and teleshopping.
“Earlier, one could only find expensive Spanish cosmetics, but now dozens of it are sold in perfumeries and increasingly through teleshopping,” Alice Wu, an entrepreneur in Taipei, told EFE.
Fashion, shoes and Spanish accessories have also made their presence felt on the island and are not limited to just international brands but dozens of other companies too, Echaniz said.
“For me, Spain is art, passion, wine, fashion, bags and shoes and when I go there, I come laden,” Joyce Line, a local guide who speaks Spanish, told EFE.
Oriol Ayne from Do Vinos Taiwan and sommelier Daniel Carretero are among those boasting about Spanish food and wine in the country.
“Taiwanese consumer needs direct contact and explanation to be able to understand the value of Spanish products, because they usually know about the products from some countries that they consider being the best,” Carretero said.
Wedding dresses from Spain can also be seen across numerous wedding photography shops, including nougat, pies, cheese, sausages and olives in the renowned supermarkets.
Many Spanish products, “are still widely unknown (because) we don’t know how to sell them despite their quality,” said Daniel Rodriguez, operational director of RT-Mart, a hypermarket chain that sells 154 hispanic products.
The Spanish products, Rodriguez, said needs to be promoted better and aggressively.