• An employee makes stuffed steamed buns at a food factory in Yangzhou, Jiangsu Province.

An employee makes stuffed steamed buns at a food factory in Yangzhou, Jiangsu Province. (Photo : REUTERS)

Traditional food brand Goubuli is looking overseas for business expansion to rebound its dwindling sales in the domestic market where it faces stiff competition.

Founded in 1858, Giobuli has an annual turnover of about 600 million yuan, much less than the 2 billion yuan enjoyed by rival Daniang Dumpling, which was established in the late 1990s.

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Meanwhile, Qingfeng Steamed Buns, a brand founded in the 1940s, had opened 183 stores in China by the end of 2013.

Analysts said that Goubuli is losing ground because it is still relying on its old and renowned brand name instead of product quality to attract customers from both home and abroad.

Mou Dongliang, deputy secretary-general for the World Association of Chinese Cuisine, said that domestic food companies like Goubuli fail to meet local tastes, so their customers are limited to overseas Chinese.

A National Business Daily report published on Jan. 23 also identified the company's inadequate marketing as the cause of its slow growth.

Goubuli recently attracted attention with its acquisition of permanent rights to use Gloria Jean's Coffees brand, a United States coffee chain, in its quest to go global.

The acquisition opened up the opportunity for Goubuli to pair its steamed bun with coffee.

Zhang Yansen, Goubuli president, had announced that they would consider selling steamed stuffed buns in the coffee shops, only to retract from his statement.

The pairing of steamed buns and coffee is perceived to be odd and many commented it would not work.

Zhang also said that he hopes to use the coffee chain's network, which has 1,000 stores in 42 countries, to bring higher-quality Chinese food to the U.S. market.

Goubuli plans to open 20 Gloria Jean's Coffees branches in China in 2015 and 200 shops in the next five years.

The company had closed a deal with Singapore-based food manufacturer Tee Yih Jia in Oct. 2013 to sell Goubuli products in more than 50 cities in the Asia Pacific market.