Hot Right Now: Ice cream in China, sugar tax in UAE, food labelling in Japan and more trending social media stories in our round-up

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Ice cream in China, sugar tax in UAE, food labelling in Japan and more trending social media stories feature in this edition of Hot Right Now. ©Getty Images
Ice cream in China, sugar tax in UAE, food labelling in Japan and more trending social media stories feature in this edition of Hot Right Now. ©Getty Images

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Ice cream in China, sugar tax in UAE, food labelling in Japan and more trending social media stories feature in this edition of Hot Right Now.

The inside scoop on ice cream: Chinese consumers want both indulgence and health

The ice cream market in China is growing rapidly​, with brands tapping into this trend from both an indulgence and health perspective.

According to market research provider Euromonitor International, sales revenue of ice cream in China is expected to reach RMB45 billion (US$6.5b) this year.

Meanwhile fellow research agency Mintel predicts the market to grow at a CAGR of 11.9% to reach RMB71 billion (US$10b) over the next five years.

Sugar beat? UAE to impose 50% excise tax in 2020 on products containing sugar and sweeteners

In a move to reduce consumption of unhealthy products and prevent chronic diseases, the UAE Government will impose a fresh 50% excise tax on a raft of products​ containing added sugar or sweeteners, with officials hoping it will reduce consumption of ‘unhealthy products’ and prevent chronic diseases.

The tax will take effect on January 1, 2020, and will include any SSB (sugar sweetened beverage) product containing sugar or sweeteners, and is produced as either a ready-to-drink beverage or as concentrates, gels, powders, extracts, or any other form that can be converted into a SSB.

This is an extension to the list of excise taxable products after the first in 2017, with 50% tax on carbonated drinks, and 100% tax on energy drinks.

Japan’s food labelling standards: Around 20% of products not compliant with new regime

One-in-five food products in Japan are still not compliant​ with the country’s new food labelling standards, with time rapidly running out for manufacturers to make the changes.

The 10 new standards were enforced in April 2015 by the Consumers Affairs Agency in Japan for the labelling of processed foods and additives for consumers.

Food firms were encouraged to implement the changes as quickly as possible, with a final cut-off date of March 31, 2020. But Hiroyuki Kawai, CEO of Label Bank, a company specialising in food labelling regulations told FoodNavigator-Asia​: “We estimate around 80% of total food products have followed the new food labelling standards​.”

However, it varies depending on the type of product and companies selling those goods, as these parameters will often determinate how hard it is to update the labels."

‘New fraud opportunity’: Expert lambasts new Vietnam-Malaysia halal certification centre

An industry expert has voiced criticism over the newly-established Vietnam-Malaysia halal certification centre​, saying that this could potentially open up the local food industry to more food safety and food fraud issues.

The Vietnam-Malaysia Centre of Halal was launched earlier this year in the Southern Vietnamese city of Can Tho, claiming the title of the ‘first halal certification centre in the Mekong Delta province’​.

The centre was touted as a means to help Vietnamese exporters increase exports to Islamic countries such as the Middle East, as well as increase Vietnam’s value as a Muslim tourist destination – but halal advisor and credence claims researcher John Keogh disagrees.

“Firstly, and to be honest, it opens up a new fraud opportunity. I say this because Vietnam does not have a food safety culture at any level [and] this is people and behaviour related,”​ Keogh, who is also Managing Principal of advisory firm Shantalla, told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

Boycott of food products made by non-Muslims would be ‘shot in the foot’ for Malaysian businesses

Muslim-owned food companies have hit out at Malaysian Islamist groups’​ calls for Muslims to buy only goods made by people who follow their religion.

At the same time, widespread demands to boycott non-Muslim products have not had any impact on sales, according to Malaysia’s domestic trade and consumer affairs minister.

The move originated following a suggestion by the Islamic Consumers Association of Malaysia to Jakim, the country’s powerful halal regulator, last month, calling for halal certificates to be issued in the native language of the product’s manufacturer, so that consumers can identify if they are Muslim or otherwise.

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