Boost to consumer confidence? China’s ministry and WeChat launch infant formula traceability programme

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

The WeChat mini program allows consumers to check the information of 17 infant formula brands.
The WeChat mini program allows consumers to check the information of 17 infant formula brands.

Related tags wechat China Infant formula Traceability

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) and WeChat, the country’s messaging service giant, have jointly developed and launched the country’s first WeChat mini programme for infant formula traceability.

The two signed a MoU in Beijing and officially launched the mini programme earlier this month. 

At present, 17 domestic enterprises with an accumulated 710 million pieces of supply chain information are participating in the program. They include major dairy players Yili, Yashili, Beingmate, Feihe, and Junlebao.

With this, consumers can scan the QR code on the infant formula products to find out information such as the production date, batch number, manufacturer, and product testing results.

According to the Tencent WeChat team, the number of monthly active WeChat users has exceeded 1.1 billion, while that of mini programs is more than 200 million.

It said that the mini programme has “important significance” ​in materialising traceability across the whole supply chain and building consumers’ trust in locally produced products.

The MIIT said that the mini programme was a build-up on the enterprises’ existing systems around product traceability.

It added that the program also served to synchronise information about product quality and safety across the country, raise the bar for quality of domestic infant formula, promote the level of competitiveness within the local industry, and improve reputation of local infant formula products.

The new development seems to signify the country’s resolute in reviving its infant formula industry.

Two months ago, the Chinese authorities said it hoped to revive its infant formula industry​ hard hit by the melamine scandal within the next three years.

It aimed for a self-governing system where manufacturers would follow the HACCP system and conduct risk analysis.  

Last month, authorities announced the goal of increasing local infant formula production, such that more than 60% of the market is made up of local products, although they did not specify the deadline of achieving the target.

A Nielsen report released in March showed that domestic infant and toddler formula accounted for 43.7% of the market last year, after production grew by 21% that year.

Spreading information

Besides the mini program, the cooperation also aims to stop the spread of false information via the setting up of a WeChat public account.

In addition, the cooperation also aims to drive a greater use of IoT amongst firms producing consumer goods via WeChat.

According to local media Ecns, Gao Yanmin, the director of the Consumer Goods Department within the MIIT, said he hoped that the cooperation could push forward the application of new technologies such as mobile internet, big data, cloud computing, and blockchain in traditional consumer goods sectors.

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