Optical Industry & Exhibitions of China

THE INTERNATIONAL OPTICAL EXHIBITIONS FOR CHINA China International Optics Fair (CIOF) and China (Shanghai) International Optics Fair (SIOF, the spring session of the CIOF), are the two annual optical shows in China enjoying official endorsement and support. In China, official approval and sponsorship mean half a ticket to success. The shows are equipped with the right credentials:

They are approved by the Ministry of Commerce and supported by the China National Light Industry Council (the former Ministry of Light Industry). The latter is the authorised body supervising the light industry of the country. Optics is one of it.

They are organized by the China Optometry & Optical Association (COOA), the body that governs the optical industry of China, and the Sinolight International Holdings Corporation (SIHC), the state-owned enterprise running intrnational trade in China.

In fact, the dates of the shows fit perfectly into China's bi-annual procurement seasons. Further, the shows are recognized by the Ministry of Commerce as "Distinguished Optical Exhibitions".

The Ministry of Commerce, on behalf of the Central Government, has endorsed both the China International Optics Fair (CIOF) and the China (Shanghai) International Optics Fair (SIOF) as the official international optical trade and industry exhibitions of China. Hence all the related departments of China will turn on green light for the trade and import and investment reached in the fairs. Besides central support, the Shanghai show is also endorsed by the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce, the local authority.

China International Optics Fair (CIOF)
The International Optical Industry Exhibition for China commenced in Shanghai in 1985. In 1987, the show was moved to Beijing, endorsed by the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relation and Trade (now Ministry of Commerce) as an official international optical exhibition for the country. As optical industry is under the Ministry of Light Industry (the current China National Light Industry Council), the Ministry started its sponsorship that same year. The show organizer, the China Optometric & Optical Association, renamed it as China International Optics Fair (CIOF) as of 1997 when it came to its 10th anniversary. The new title reflects the prominence of the show nationwide, the status and the support and participation it gets from international suppliers and traders of the optical world. CIOF2019, 32nd event, has reached a record high of exhibition area of 55,000m². CIOF2019 proudly presented 807 exhibitors in total, whereas there were 185 international exhibitors and 245 global brands showcased from 21 countries and regions. As for buyer attendance, 72,844 times of visiting were certainly more than impressive.

China (Shanghai) International Optics Fair (SIOF)
China (Shanghai) International Optics Fair, the spring session of the international optical industry exhibition for China, inaugurated in Shanghai in 2001. Its predecessor is the national optical trade fair in spring taking place in different city in rotation once every year, apart from the international fair which is scheduled to hold in Beijing in September annually. China is the largest single optical market in the world, and the country enjoys high GDP growth. The well-off Chinese buyers constantly require advance, stylish and fashionable optical products. In compliance with the market demand and with approval of related government authorities, starting from 2001, the organizers resolved the spring national fair into an international exhibition to allow foreign companies to exhibit and more overseas buyers to come and trade there. Shanghai, the metropolitan city and economic center of China, and the original venue of the international optical exhibition for China, is chosen as the site of the SIOF. The decision is proved to be wise and successful: the show grew from 8,000m² in 2001 to more than 80,000m² in 2019! Within 19 years, the exhibition area has grown more than 10 times bigger than the first edition! It is obvious that the show in Shanghai also brings about huge business to participants as the Beijing fair in autumn. Our SIOF2019 edition attracted 906 exhibitors in total from 22 countries and regions, out of which there were 243 global exhibitors showcasing 364 international brands. As for buyers' attendance, buyers flooded in from 71 countries and regions, with the times of visiting reaching the admirable apex of 90,000.

Established in 1985, China Optometric & Optical Association is a national association of manufacturers, optometrists, traders, research institutes and education institutions of the industry. It is the only legal entity representing the Chinese optical industry. It is the official administrative organization supervising the manufacturing, processing and import and export of eyeglasses, spectacle frames, lenses and blanks, contact lens and related eye care products, eyewear production machinery, visual test equipment, spectacle components and spare parts, eyeglass cases, raw materials and related optical products.

Under the COOA, there are 8 standing committees:

1) The Spectacle Frames Committee
2) The Spectacle Lenses Committee
3) The Glass Blank of Ophthalmic Lenses Committee
4) The Optical Hard Resin Lenses Committee
5) The Contact Lens Committee
6) The Equipment & Instruments Committee
7) The Optometry Committee
8) The Quality Control Committee

These committees carry out related professional activities with the trust of the COOA.

In addition, the association has its own publication house publishing the China Glasses Science-Technology Magazine, the only official optical magazine of China. With the Government' s delegation, the office of the Optometry Professional Committee of the State Occupational Qualification Committee has also been established in the Secretariat of the COOA to set up the professional qualifications of visual test and lens fitting, compiling the teaching aids of the professional qualification training programmes for visual test and lens fitting and those of other fields. Besides, the Chinese government has implemented the system of Production certificate of optical products to guarantee products quality for sale in China and COOA is authorized to carry out the project. It also has the mission of drafting questions for optometrist qualification examinations; launching training courses for senior and intermediate visual test and lens fitting personnel and trainers. Moreover, it is also the committee's responsibility to host examination of senior visual test and lens fitting personnel with the approval of the State Occupational Qualification Committee.

COOA is under the supervision of the State Economic & Trade Commission of China. The Commission has set down the business scope of the COOA as follows:

- investigating the business of optical trade;
- implementing development plan of the optical industry and raising policy proposals to the    government;
- undertaking government appointment for compiling statistics of the optical industry;
- participating in quality control and inspection of the production;
- organizing technical and occupational training;
- participating in implementing and revising the national and industrial standards of the    industry;
- issuing the production licenses to qualified local manufacturers;
- examining occupational qualifications;
- assisting the exploration of related product markets;
- reflecting the requests of the industry as well as the members;
- coordinating the relationship of the association members;
- regulating the performance of the industry, and
- assuring fair competition of the enterprises and the industry.

In short, it oversees the business and development of the optical industry of China.

COOA is the core of management mechanism of the Chinese optical industry. As a WTO member, China will have to link her economic practice with the rest of the world. COOA will actively participate in the international exchange and cooperation, encourage Chinese enterprises to join the international market, and to introduce advanced products, technology and management experiences of foreign countries into China. To achieve the goal, COOA organizes Chinese companies to join international optical exhibitions in Hong Kong SAR, India, Korea, Japan, USA, France and Italy every year, not to mention their own optical exhibitions, the CIOF and SIOF, which boost the import and export of the optical industry of China!

The China Optometric & Optical Association is playing a very important role in regulating the Chinese optical market, enhancing the quality of the professionals, protecting the interests and promoting the development of the optical industry. In 2005, to assure visual health of the people, China launched the system of Production Certificate granted to local optical manufacturers who can meet the quality of production as required by the government. Products without the license are not allowed to be sold in the local market. COOA is entrusted by the government to inspect the factories and issue the license after examining the final products.

Orient International Exhibition Co., Ltd. (OIEC) was founded in 1996. The team that formed the company was the same group of experts who masterminded the international optical industry exhibition for China.

In 1997, when the optical exhibition came to its 10th anniversary, the organizers - the China Optometric & Optical Association (COOA) and the Sinolight International Holdings Corporation (SIHC) invited Orient International to be the co-organizer of the exhibition, responsible for overseas promotion and recruiting international exhibitors and visitors. The show was also renamed as China International Optics Fair to show its prominence in the industry and the support from the associates local and worldwide. OIEC is veteran in organizing international exhibition and overseas promotion. With the join force of OIEC, China International Optics Fair has become one of the significant international optical events. The fair's scale is expanding every year, with the exhibition area increasing from 11,500m² in 1997 to 55,000m² in 2019. The number of exhibitors increased from 300 in 1997 to 807 in 2019. Starting from 2001, the organizers resolved the national optical procurement fair held every spring into an international optics exhibition, to be held in Shanghai, and named it as China (Shanghai) International Optics Fair. The spring session of the international optics industry exhibition for China was also very successful: the exhibition area and number of exhibitors expanded from 2001's 8,000m² and 219 exhibitors to more than 80,000m² and 942 exhibitors in 2019.

Market overview (Source : HKTDC Research Department)
China is not only just the world's leading manufacturer of spectacles but also the largest potential consumer. According to  Euromonitor estimates, retail sales of spectacles in China increased by 6% in the span of 2017 and 2018 to RMB 63.8 billion.

China has one of the highest rates of myopia in the world. 50% of people in China suffer from m yopia, significantly higher than the global average of 30%. According to a survey by the  National Health Commission, the 53.6% of mainland children and adolescents in 2018 suffered from myopia, including 14.5% of children aged six, 36% of primary school students, 71.6% of junior high school students and 8 1% of senior high school students. This suggests that the market potential for spectacles is substantial.

As living standards improve, consumers are becoming more concerned with the health and protection of their eyes when choosing spectacles. As a result, sales of higher quality glasses are increasing. Blue ray -blocking spectacles are gaining popularity among office workers who frequently use computers. As well as taking increasing interest in glasses’ practical functions, consumers are also paying greater attention to their aesthetic qualities. The trend towards bespoke, branded spectacles is becoming increasingly evident.

Consumers’ pursuit of greater comfort and individuality, together with the increasing specialisation of China’s eyewear industry and the moves towards upgrading and brand-building, has led to the rise of the custom-made market. Custom-made spectacles are individually designed to meet the particular needs of individual customers. For example, they may come in different shapes aimed at showcasing a customer’s personal style or be designed to fit the wearer’s facial contours.

Contact lenses: According to  Euromonitor, retail sales of contact lenses in China amounted to RMB 8.77 billion in 2018, up 7.5% from 2017. This figure is expected to rise by an average 6.7% annually over the next five years, to reach RMB 12.13 billion by 2023. Many people opt for contact lenses rather than glasses because they are more convenient and comfortable, and carry less risk of injury, when performing physical activities such as sports. Sales of disposable one-day contact lenses are likely to grow even faster than sales of traditional lenses as an increasing number of contact lens consumers opt for greater convenience and hygiene.

Presbyopic glasses: Data from the  China Statistical Yearbook shows that Chinese society is ageing. In 2018, 40.2% of China’s total population was above the age of 45, and that figure is expected to reach 44% by 2030. Since consumers in this age group have higher spending power and are less price-sensitive, they are more inclined to buy prescription glasses than ready-made spectacles to correct their vision. This is likely to have a negative effect on the sales of ready-made presbyopic glasses.

Sunglasses: The number of people in China buying sunglasses is growing year by year. According to  Euromonitor, sunglasses sales in China reached RMB 10.77 billion in 2018, an increase of 7.3% from the previous year. Increasing numbers of people are buying sunglasses as fashion accessories. Many sunglasses brands and luxury brands are expanding their sunglasses series to stimulate sales even further.

Children's spectacles: With more young children being diagnosed as myopic and with more parents willing to pay for high-quality glasses for their offspring, the children’s market has become very attractive to the spectacles industry. Blue light-blocking spectacles for children are also becoming increasingly popular with parents who want to protect their children’s eyes. The spread of smartphones and electronic devices in China has led to almost 67% of children aged six or under coming into contact with electronic products and becoming routinely exposed to the blue light emitted from these devices.

Smart glasses: Smart glasses are wearable computer glasses with an independent operating system that allows users to install applications and choose services. They support voice or motion sensors through wireless connectivity. The  Mix Reality app developed by  Microsoft combines virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to integrate images with the physical world, and allow users to manipulate holograms using gestures. China’s smart glasses market is growing gradually, with  Huawei launching the world’s first smart glasses supporting NFC wireless charging. Users can take incoming phone calls and listen to music without putting anything in their ears by connecting their smart glasses with mobile phones.