2008 has not been an altogether happy year for the Chinese food and drink industry, which saw its already tarnished reputation undermined further by the melamine-in-milk scandal.

But if you think for a moment this might stop this giant country's food sector from expanding, think again. According to a new report, produced by Business Monitor International, China will experience a staggering 126% increase in food consumption values, measured in US dollars, between now and 2012. Translated into per capita consumption, this means a 211% increase over the forecast period.

This growth will be supported by rising urbanisation, Westernisation, innovation and premiumisation of the country, as well as the more prominent presence of foreign mass grocery retail operators, says the report, entitled China Food and Drink Report Q4, which is available through Research & Markets.

The strong growth is expected to weather all the pressures of rising food prices and global economic slowdown, says the report, with China continuing to attract the interest of major foreign corporations in the wake of the Beijing Olympics.

The report points out that Japanese and US firms have been particularly prominent in China's food and beverage market in recent months. In September, America's The Coca-Cola Company made a takeover bid for the largest privately owned juice producer in China, Huiyuan Juice Group. Japan's Yakult Honsha Co, meanwhile, announced a ramping up of its production in China.

In the meantime, according to the report, Chinese companies are also expanding their overseas presence in a bid to both extend their reach and to avoid negative press surrounding Chinese food safety standards.