China’s economic growth hit its slowest rate in 25 years, growing just 6.9 per cent in 2015.
The slowdown as well as a drop in global commodity prices has left the International Momentary Fund to forecast China’s economic growth to slow further to 6.3 per cent in 2016, reports Reuters.
Consumption, however, has continued to grow in China, particularly in the growing online commerce market, supported by solid wage growth.
Keith Woodford, an honorary professor of agrifood systems at Lincoln University, told Radio NZ that there needs to be a distinction between China's "old economy", based around commodities, and consumer spending.
"The numbers that I'm seeing are that [China's] consumer spending has still gone up by a little more than 11 per cent last year," Woodford said. "So, as long as you're in the right products that Chinese consumers want, you're okay.”
The news of the slowdown in economic growth has left New Zealand’s exporters unfazed, as demand for New Zealand’s fresh produce and food continues to increase among Chinese consumers.
In particular, New Zealand kiwifruit consumption has shown strong growth, with single-desk kiwifruit market Zespri confident that China will remain its fastest growing market.
"We're watching the potential downturn in the economy quite closely, but I think it's really hard to generalise when you're talking about such a massive and complex economy as China," Simon Limmer, Zespri chief operating officer told Radio NZ. "And, really, we're looking in the area that we compete in, still really strong demand for good, high-quality, healthy food products and products that can be trusted."
Limmer said Zespri’s shipments to China increased 50 per cent last season, with a similar goal set for the 2016 season.