Some New Zealand infant formula manufacturers and brand-owners could be temporarily blocked from exporting to China if they are unable to meet the requirements of a new register by May 1.
In a statement issued earlier today, Primary Industry Minister Nathan Guy and Food Safety Minister Nikki Haye said that a Chinese audit of 13 New Zealand infant formula manufacturers in March found that “all but one…have some actions they need to undertake before registration will be complete.”
The new Chinese regulations, which apply to all countries, will come into effect from May 1 2014. Any infant formula manufacturer or brand-owner in New Zealand hoping to export to China must feature on the aforementioned register by May 1 2014.
Despite the evaluation, Guy expects that “based on advice from Chinese officials” it expects “most if not all of our 13 manufacturers to achieve registration.”
“MPI has provided details of those changes to the manufacturers this morning and in some cases changes have already been made. MPI will be working closely with the Chinese to help complete the registration process for manufacturers as quick as possible,” said Guy.
Exports of retail-ready New Zealand infant formula to China are currently worth around NZ$200m (US$172m, €124m), according to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).
Manufacturers, who are working though this registration process, currently control around 90% of these exports.
For the remaining 10%, who contract out the manufacture of the products they export, the changes required will be more complex, Kaye claimed.
“Chinese officials have made it clear that they will require a close association between the brand owner and the manufacturer,” she said.
“Yesterday they formally advised that in practice that means the brand owner having clear control over the manufacturing process and the product formulation for their brand,” she said.
“This will impact on those brand-owners who are unable to prove that close association.”
The MPI plans to work with these brand-owners to bring them in line with the new regulations, Kaye added.
In January 2014, the US Dairy Export Council (USDEC) denied that a similar Food and Drug Administration (FDA) procedure requiring manufacturers to register their interest in exporting to China would be “burdensome or disrupt trade.”
The FDA list was devised in response to the issuance of Decree 145, otherwise known as Administrative Measures for Registration of Overseas Manufacturers, by the State General Administration of the People’s Republic of China for Quality Supervision and Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ).
The FDA said at the time that establishing the list would help processors comply with new Chinese government regulations.
US dairy processors also have until May 1 2014 to register.