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Are Canadian Food and Beverage Companies Missing Connections?

Vancouver-based Astron Connect is cultivating worldwide business connections for Canadian food and beverage companies

Building connections in emerging markets helps Canadian companies grow and prosper

In our global world connections are paramount. Without connections, ideas are forgotten or lost and businesses are left behind.

Canadians often take for granted the abundance of food available to them and take comfort in its quality and safety. However, in many countries that reality is different, one in which food quality and safety is not guaranteed. For example, in China, due to recent issues involving domestic food safety, consumers have become fearful of contamination, which has led to an increasing need for imported food products. According to Statistics Canada, Canada exported more than $2 billion worth of processed foods to China in 2016 and exports of organic food products increased an average of 33 percent each year from 2011 to 2016. In addition, Chinese consumers associate Canada with superior environmental standards and top-quality products.

It is estimated that the Chinese middle class will include more than 550 million people by the year 2022, which will create new consumers with disposable income and who are eager for authentic, high-quality and safe food and beverage products.

This is where Astron Connect enters the market. The Vancouver- based company’s goal is to connect Canada to these emerging markets by providing authentic and high-quality Canadian food and beverage products. By doing so, Astron helps Canadian supply companies to expand their businesses. Astron Connect commenced trading on the TSX Venture Exchange (TSX.V: AST) in August 2018, making it uniquely positioned as the only public Canadian company selling bottled water to China.

Astron Connect recently appointed Fei Chu as a director. Chu is currently Procurement Director at Hema Fresh Network Technology Co., a subsidiary of Alibaba Group Holding, and she has previously worked for Sam’s Club, a subsidiary of Walmart.

“Ms. Chu will bring in-depth knowledge of the Chinese market to our team at Astron. Her years of working with major food chains in China and her expertise in bringing brands into the Chinese marketplace will be an excellent asset for us moving forward,” said Iris Duan, Chair of the Board at Astron Connect.

In November, in order to build on further connections, members of Astron Connect attended the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, where COO Bei Nie spent the week sharing information regarding suppliers and products in order to lay the foundation for future Chinese partnerships.

Astron Connect’s immediate goal is to expand its network of Canadian food and beverage suppliers and products by continuing to leverage its expertise and build connections. Its priority is to place products that best meet the demands and tastes of Chinese and emerging-market consumers.

“I am very optimistic about the future,” said Randall Smallbone, CEO of Astron Connect. “The Astron team believes that we are providing a valuable service for Canadian companies and for consumers in emerging markets.”

China’s rapid transformation has created an economic powerhouse and a burgeoning customer base. Astron Connect can use its network and experience to help Canadian food and beverage makers gain a foothold in the country and deliver high-quality products to new markets.