When sustainability in the West is increasingly integrated into business strategy, it still sounds like “empty talk with no substance” to most Chinese companies in the food and beverages industry. Contrasting to long-established civil society in the West, practically, the Chinese version is a work in progress. This report explored the business opportunities and risks particularly for professional services in China’s sustainability space.
Chinese consumers currently rate personal health and wellness (People/value: USD48 billion) much higher than the planet (Environment/sustainability: USD39 billion) despite rising awareness of overall sustainability issues thanks to a hyperconnected world.
Given the Chinese political system, the pace of development of the sustainability industry largely depends on how determined and effective the central government is likely to be. This will be a highly complex process, with policymaking, regulation, advocacy and implementation.
China’s civil society movement and NGOs are evolving at their own pace under the specific political system and economic advancement. They are far from part of the policymaking process. Chinese NGOs are rivals and collaborators of foreign NGOs and commercial firms. There is a call for harmonisation of standards between Chinese/ international NGOs if possible.
International professional services are actively operating alongside heavy involvement of multinational brand owners and suppliers in the consumer market. Chinese companies’ international exposure has a positive impact on their CSR/sustainability approach. Chinese professional services are emerging and expanding; however, the scale remains small to date.
Given the advocacy of sustainability by the UN, NGOs, the Chinese government and commercial companies, it is safe to assume that the demand for professional services can only expand. The demand and supply for sustainability services will grow but challenges and risks should be anticipated given the immature market sentiments.
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