HANGZHOU: Alibaba's position as the go-to platform for western food brands looking to build online sales in China has been cemented with its partnership with Mars, which joins a growing roster that already includes Mondelez and Nestlé.

The deal will see Mars will establish an integrated online and offline business model to more effectively serve its hundreds of millions of consumers in China.

All of Mars' brands in China, which include six brands worth over $1bn each – Dove, Snickers, M&M's, Extra, Pedigree and Royal Canin – will be available on all Alibaba platforms including Tmall.com and Rural Taobao.

"Mars is an invaluable addition to our ecosystem, and this collaboration is a significant milestone for Alibaba as we now have established close partnerships with three of the world's top food and beverage companies," said Jet Jing, Vice President of Alibaba Group.

In April, Mondelez International announced a similar tie-up and said it would sell a fuller range of its products, including Oreo, Toblerone, Cadbury and Trident, on Tmall.com, as well as launching exclusive products on the platform.

Nestlé was the first of the three to set off down this path, back in January, and recently launched a marketing campaign to promote products that have not previously been available in China, including Nestlé Damak chocolate from Turkey, Nescafé Gold from France, and Nestlé and Wyeth infant nutrition products from Switzerland, the UK and Germany.

Executives highlighted how China is spearheading a global shift in digital behaviour, driven by the country's youth.

"Consumers here are very discerning and adapting to technology faster than almost anywhere else in the world," said Wan Ling Martello, head of Nestlé's Asia, Oceania and sub-Saharan Africa operations.

"There is no better place than China to start the story of the next 150 years," she added.

Data sourced from Alizila, Reuters, Nestle; additional content by Warc staff