Food distribution channel members in the Peoples' Republic of China have been interviewed to determine the factors that they regard as most relevant when selecting imported food products. In the Chinese market, country of origin itself appears to play little role in product evaluation by channel members. However, an unanticipated finding in this exploratory study is that pioneer (or first mover) status appears to play a major role in regard to beliefs concerning the country of origin of food products. Products considered to have been first into the market are often perceived as having better quality or being the 'genuine' one, with followers having a lesser status. This seems likely to be due to the long-term orientation of Chinese culture, and the value that is placed on hierarchy, tradition and history. It could also be due in part to the prevalence of counterfeit products, including food products, in the Chinese market, leading to widespread mistrust of 'non-genuine' products.