In 2020, mainland China’s 100 imported consumer products that generated the most spending totaled US$541.6 billion. That dollar amount represents 26.3% of the overall value of all Chinese imported goods ($2.056 trillion).
The 5 most valuable consumer products imported into China during 2020 were cars, phones, soya beans, computers and liquid crystal devices.
The total dollar amount for China’s top 100 imported consumer products declined by -2.8% from 2019 to 2020, compared to a -0.6% drop for all Chinese imported goods for the year.
China’s purchases of imported products–both overall and consumer–actually dropped at a much slower pace than the global average decline of -8.2% from 2019 to 2020 for all importing countries.
Among the top 100 consumer products imported by the People’s Republic of China, 54 increased in total sales from 2019 to 2020 whereas 46 declined.
Changes in Chinese consumer demand for essential imports offer future opportunities for international suppliers who correctly anticipate which upward or downward trends will continue.
Consumer Products Defined
Economics educator BoyceWire defines a consumer product as a final good or end product that a business creates for consumers to buy. For example, consumers often purchase refined petroleum oil at the gas station while imported crude oil is an intermediate good subject to further processing before being sold to end users.
Although there may be a few wealthy individual buyers, products like turbojets are excluded from the consumer products targeted by this study. That is because turbojets are usually purchased by corporations. In contrast, it is common for a consumer to buy a motorcycle.
Types of Consumer Products
This article focuses on 3 distinct consumer product types.
Convenience Products are easy to access, non-durable, have relatively lower prices and therefore consumers frequently purchase them. Examples of convenience products are food, alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks, and soap.
Shopping Products are not as easily available, involve more time to make a buying decision, are durable and are not bought as often as most convenience products. A great example of a shopping product is a mobile phone where buying the wrong model is a much more expensive mistake than buying a disappointing loaf of bread.
Specialty Products describe another consumer product type. This grey area includes infrequently purchased, expensive, durable and sometimes rare items. Consumers may consider the product’s brand image when making their purchase decisions. Some examples of speciality products are gold, silver, diamonds, jewelry, and branded refrigerators and dishwashers.
Chinese Consumer Imports Smart List
The searchable marketing intelligence table below showcases China’s 100 highest-value imported consumer products in descending order. Items were selected at the four-digit Harmonized System tariff classification code level.
The table’s fourth column is labeled YOY for year over year. The fifth column identifies each entry’s consumer product type.
|4||Computers, optical readers||$33,925,166,000||+11.0%||SP|
|5||Liquid crystal/laser/optical tools||$26,400,117,000||-6.2%||SY|
|8||Computer parts, accessories||$19,836,502,000||+2.1%||SP|
|10||Coal, solid fuels made from coal||$16,385,099,000||-13.4%||CP|
|11||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$14,950,718,000||+2.3%||SP|
|13||Processed petroleum oils||$11,793,688,000||-30.9%||CP|
|14||Electrical converters/power units||$11,553,007,000||-1.6%||SP|
|19||Crustaceans (including lobsters)||$5,908,141,000||-15.9%||CP|
|20||Malt extract, food preparations||$5,898,384,000||+0.9%||CP|
|22||Unrecorded sound media||$5,025,504,000||+6.7%||SP|
|24||Hot-rolled iron/non-alloy steel items||$4,397,523,000||+80.2%||SP|
|25||Cases, handbags, wallets||$4,395,894,000||+23.7%||SP|
|26||Electric storage batteries||$4,350,083,000||-6.4%||SY|
|28||Miscellaneous fruits (fresh)||$4,113,921,000||+30.5%||CP|
|30||Whole fish (frozen)||$3,925,432,000||-20.5%||CP|
|31||Other food preparations||$3,861,920,000||+22.7%||CP|
|33||Miscellaneous plastic items||$3,733,346,000||-1.4%||CP|
|36||Concentrated/sweetened milk, cream||$3,331,361,000||+4.8%||CP|
|37||Wrist/pocket watches (regular case)||$2,932,325,000||+17.9%||SP|
|38||Screws, bolts, washers, hooks, pins||$2,787,787,000||-1.8%||SP|
|39||Red meat offal||$2,763,505,000||+38.2%||CP|
|42||Prepared glues, adhesives||$2,427,479,000||+1.2%||SP|
|45||Fuel wood, wood chips, sawdust||$2,259,816,000||-5.7%||CP|
|46||Vulcanized rubber items||$2,232,016,000||+2.0%||SP|
|47||Meat, fish or crustacean flours, pellets||$2,210,054,000||+0.3%||SP|
|49||Miscellaneous iron or steel items||$2,102,201,000||-12.8%||SP|
|53||Lubricant preparations, anti-rust||$1,822,078,000||-4.5%||SP|
|54||Sugar (cane or beet)||$1,801,965,000||+60.7%||CP|
|55||Sheep or goat meat||$1,744,289,000||-6.3%||CP|
|56||Dishwashing, clean/dry/fill machines||$1,694,958,000||+2.9%||SY|
|57||Electric water heaters, hair dryers||$1,661,992,000||-2.2%||SY|
|58||Other organic cleaning preparations||$1,595,428,000||+2.4%||CP|
|61||Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)||$1,527,513,000||-6.1%||CP|
|63||Interchangeable hand/machine tools||$1,387,445,000||-20.2%||SY|
|66||Jerseys, pullovers (knit or crochet)||$1,247,710,000||+4.7%||SP|
|67||Miscellaneous textile items||$1,245,749,000||+373.5%||SP|
|69||Plastic packing goods, lids, caps||$1,192,891,000||-5.6%||CP|
|72||Dried shelled vegetables||$1,070,461,000||+33.9%||CP|
|73||Seats (not barber/dentist chairs)||$1,069,195,000||-20.7%||SP|
|74||Women's clothing (not knit/crochet)||$1,051,058,000||-3.4%||SP|
|75||Electron or proton microscopes||$1,048,448,000||-3.7%||SY|
|80||Packaged insecticides, herbicides||$906,737,000||+19.1%||SP|
|81||T-shirts, vests (knit or crochet)||$894,820,000||-6.3%||SP|
|82||Other pharmaceutical preparations||$886,588,000||-2.4%||SP|
|83||Wrist/pocket watches (precious case)||$879,507,000||+54.7%||SP|
|85||Rubber tires (new)||$854,925,000||-3.9%||SP|
|86||Footwear (rubber or plastic)||$854,199,000||+35.0%||SP|
|88||Bovine raw hides and skins||$834,045,000||-8.1%||SY|
|89||Unused stamps including postage||$833,528,000||-9.2%||SP|
|90||Magnets including electro-magnets||$821,804,000||-1.1%||SY|
|91||Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries||$819,623,000||-2.0%||CP|
|92||Uncoated paper for writing/printing||$810,062,000||+46.5%||CP|
|93||Waters with added sugar||$809,585,000||+18.0%||CP|
|94||Sanitary towels, baby napkins/liners||$803,827,000||-24.4%||SP|
|95||Manioc roots, artichokes, sweet potatoes||$784,598,000||+21.9%||CP|
|96||Models, puzzles, miscellaneous toys||$772,765,000||+2.3%||SP|
|97||Perfumes, toilet waters||$747,491,000||+34.1%||CP|
|98||Household base metal mountings||$736,681,000||+2.3%||SY|
|99||Coconut, palm kernel or babassu oil||$728,013,000||-9.7%||CP|
|100||Miscellaneous preserved fruits||$726,341,000||-7.0%||CP|
The most popular product types are convenience products (CP) thanks to 42 items led by food products such as soya beans, pork and frozen beef.
In second place were shopping products (SP), accounting for 40 entries among China’s top 100 imported consumer goods. The most valuable shopping products include cars, phones and automotive parts or accessories.
In third place is the speciality products category via 18 entries. Examples of key speciality products are Chinese imports of gold, diamonds and jewelry as well as beauty, makeup and skincare items.
Durable consumer products are goods like cars, refrigerators and furniture that last a relatively long time. Consumers can put durable products to use again and again. By product type, note that all shopping products and speciality products are considered as durable consumer products.
Non-durable consumer products (ND) are goods that are not re-used once consumed. Alcoholic beverages and bananas are examples of non-durable goods. Convenience products are uniquely non-durable consumer products.
Based on the product types identified in the above table, 58 of China’s highest-value consumer imported products are durable while 42 are classified as non-durable
You can also peruse the greatest increases or decreases in product values from 2019 to 2020. To do so, click on the heading of the fourth column.
Fastest-Growing Consumer Imports
Listed below are the top 10 consumer products imported into the United States that experienced the highest percentage increases in spending from 2019 to 2020.
- Miscellaneous textile items: Up 373.5% ($1.2 billion)
- Swine meat: Up 163.5% ($11.9 billion)
- Groundnuts: Up 159.8% ($835.6 million)
- Corn: Up 134.6% ($2.5 billion)
- Hot-rolled iron/non-alloy steel items: Up 80.2% ($4.4 billion)
- Poultry meat: Up 73.9% ($3.5 billion)
- Sunflower/safflower/cotton-seed oil: Up 70% ($1.6 billion)
- Sugar: Up 60.7% ($1.8 billion)
- Wrist or pocket watches with precious metal case: Up 54.7% ($879.5 million)
- Jewelry: Up 54.1% ($3.7 billion)
Among the above consumer products, 6 are food-related convenience products. With very few exceptions, these are non-durable goods that most consumers use one time.
In contrast, there are 4 shopping products that require a comparatively longer time for consumers to make a buying decision and can be re-used. These are miscellaneous textile items, hot-rolled iron and non-alloy steel items, wrist or pocket watches with precious metal case, and jewelry.
All 4 shopping products are considered durables.
Worst-Declining Consumer Imports
China’s spending on the following 10 items decreased at the greatest pace from 2019 to 2020.
- Gold (unwrought): Down -74% ($11.4 billion)
- Processed petroleum oils: Down -30.9% ($11.8 billion)
- Wine: Down -25.3% ($1.8 billion)
- Sanitary towels, baby napkins/liners: Down -24.4% ($803.8 million)
- Unmounted/unset diamonds: Down -24.2% ($5.9 billion)
- Moluscs: Down -24.2% ($1.2 billion)
- Seats (not barber/dentist chairs): Down -20.7% ($1.1 billion)
- Whole frozen fish: Down -20.5% ($3.9 billion)
- Potassic fertilizers: Down -20.5% ($2.2 billion)
- Interchangeable hand/machine tools: Down -20.2% ($1.4 billion)
Four top decliners are non-durable convenience products. These items are processed petroleum oils, wine, moluscs and whole frozen fish.
Also showing total import deteriorations year over year are 4 leading speciality products specifically gold, diamonds, potassic fertilizers and interchangeable hand/machine tools.
Key Suppliers by Country
This analysis reveals competitive suppliers that target China’s demand for its top 5 consumer import products.
China’s biggest imported consumer product by value is cars. China’s 4 other leading consumer imports are phones, soya beans, computers, and liquid crystal, laser or optical tools.
Below, you will find major supplying countries for China’s imported:
Cars: Germany (30.1% of total), Japan (22.6%), United States (18.9%), Slovakia (11.9%), United Kingdom (8%), Thailand (2.5%), Sweden (1.9%), Austria (1.6%) and Italy (1%).
Phones: Vietnam (38.4% of total), China (31%), South Korea (9.5%), Taiwan (6.4%), Japan (2.9%), Thailand (2.2%), Malaysia (2.1%), Hong Kong (1%) and United States (1%).
Soya beans: Brazil (63% of total), United States (26.9%), Argentina (7.3%) and Uruguay (1.7%).
Computers: Thailand (27% of total), Taiwan (23.2%), China (22.8%), South Korea (9.2%), Malaysia (6.6%), Philippines (3.3%), Singapore (1.5%) and United States (1%).
Liquid crystal/laser/optical tools: Taiwan (32.8% of total), South Korea (26%), China (14.6%), Japan (11.5%), Thailand (5.3%), Vietnam (2.8%), Germany (2.4%), United States (1.2%) and Singapore (also 1.2%).
More great research: US Tariffs on Key Consumer Products Imported from China, UK’s Top 100 Imported Consumer Products, Canada’s Top 100 Imported Consumer Products, US Top 100 Imported Consumer Products, 100 Best Consumer Goods for Selling to Importers in Russia
Independent insights and analysis presented in this article are based on researched facts and statistics sourced from the following educational portals.
BoyceWire, Consumer Goods Definition.
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook: China Economy.
International Trade Centre, Trade Map.
Investopedia, Consumer Goods, Consumer Staples Definition, Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG).
Trading Economics, China Consumer Spending.
Wikipedia, List of largest consumer markets.
World’s Top Exports, China’s Top 10 Imports.