China Focus: Food traceability, Chinese New Year healthy choices, Yili's record-breaking results and more feature in this round-up

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Food traceability efforts in China are being hindered by challenges arising from information gaps, the absence of harmonised standards, and the lack of policies to support tracking efforts. ©Getty Images
Food traceability efforts in China are being hindered by challenges arising from information gaps, the absence of harmonised standards, and the lack of policies to support tracking efforts. ©Getty Images

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Food traceability, Chinese New Year healthy choices, Yili's record-breaking results and more feature in this edition of China Focus.

Food traceability efforts hampered by information gap and lack of harmonised standards: Chinese authority

Food traceability efforts in China are being hindered by challenges arising from information gaps​, the absence of harmonised standards, and the lack of policies to support tracking efforts.

These issues were brought up by Yang Peijun, the vice-chairman of Autonomous Region People’s Government in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Regions, during the second session of the 13th​ National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) that kicked off on Sunday (March 3) in Beijing.

The National Committee of the CPPCC is part of the annual “two sessions”, a key event in China’s political calendar where national lawmakers and political advisors come together to deliberate on national matters.

Health is wealth: Brands boost better-for-you products during indulgent Chinese New Year period

Food and beverage manufacturers continued to promote healthier choices, and achieved sales success, during the indulgent Chinese New Year festive season​, according to international grocery research Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD) Asia.

The report highlighted that healthier food options, such as reduced sugar or sugar-free options, was a key trend seen across the recent Chinese New Year period.

For example, beverage firm F&N launched a festive multi-pack in Malaysia for its zero-sugar drinks, while Marigold also selected its range of reduced sugar beverages for in-store promotion in Singapore.

“Food is an integral part of the celebrations, but at the same time shoppers are becoming more aware of the need to manage their food intake. Manufacturers are offering healthy choices with reduced sugar or sugar-free options to help shoppers manage their diet,” ​Shirley Zhu, the director of IGD Singapore explained. 

Dairy giant Yili achieves new milestone as total revenue and growth rate break all records

China’s dairy giant Yili has seen its total revenue rise by 16.9% to reach RMB$79.5bn (US$11bn) last year​ – the greatest amount generated and highest growth rate witnessed in its 50 year history.

Founded in 1956, Yili’s predecessor was a dairy cows raising cooperative based in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia. It was restructured to become Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial in 1993, and since 1996, its total revenue generated has been growing every year.

At present, 11 out of its 20 products are reaping sales of more than RMB$1bn (US$149m). These key brands include “Ambrosial”, “Satine”, “Chang Yi 100%”, “Chang Qing”, and “Joy Day”.

Its six main categories of products are liquid milk, milk powder, cheese, healthy beverage, cold beverage, and yogurt.

China unveils the first set of food safety tasks for local government

China’s local government will be held accountable for ensuring food safety in their area of administration for the first time​, according to a new set of guidelines.

The guidelines have specified the roles that the local government should play and how they will be supervised..

For example, the local government are expected to lead food safety efforts, devise solutions, and report on their progress.

In a media conference, China’s State Administration of Market Regulation (SAMR) explained that while food safety efforts had increased throughout the years, there were still challenges faced, and thus there was a need to build a system of accountability in promoting food safety

Limit high sugar content beverage available in schools and childcare centres to preserve oral health: China authorities

China’s National Health Commission (NHC) has ordered primary, secondary schools, and childcare centres to limit the sales of food and beverage loaded with sugar​.

NHC is promoting reduced sugar intake as part of an action plan to promote oral health​. The action plan will be in place until year 2025.

NHC has also encouraged food manufacturers to produce more options that are low in sugar or are sugar free. In addition, it aims to educate consumers to read nutritional labels to find out if a product contains added sugar. 

About 34.5% of 12-year-olds reported tooth decay in 2016. NHC hopes to bring down the percentage to 32% and below by year 2020 and further down to 30% in 2025.

This initiative fits into a larger project, known as the action plan for promoting healthy living, which was introduced in 2017.  

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