China Focus: Novel food innovation vs regulation, Angel Yeast expansion, palm oil exports and more feature in our round-up

By Pearly Neo

- Last updated on GMT

Novel food innovation vs regulation, Angel Yeast expansion, palm oil exports and more feature in this edition of China Focus. ©Getty Images
Novel food innovation vs regulation, Angel Yeast expansion, palm oil exports and more feature in this edition of China Focus. ©Getty Images

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Novel food innovation vs regulation, Angel Yeast expansion, palm oil exports and more feature in this edition of China Focus.

Keep up: Novel food innovation outpacing regulatory frameworks and consumer communication

Novel food product development is rapidly outpacing regulation and consumer understanding, with experts calling for better communication and policy advances to ensure innovation leads to commercialisation.

At the Pinduoduo Food Systems Forum hosted by China’s agriculture and grocery retail platform Pinduoduo, experts from the Future Ready Food Safety Hub, University of Cape Town, and Dentons Law Offices discussed the current regulatory landscape of novel foods.

Currently, there are no Codex standards for novel foods, although Singapore was the first worldwide to grant regulatory approval for cell-based chicken as a food ingredient last year.

This lack of standards and harmonisation add to the complexity of market access.

Angel Yeast spreading its wings: China firm expanding via acquisitions and production investment

China yeast firm Angel Yeast is investing heavily in acquisitions and production as it attempts to seal its position as Asia’s largest yeast company.

The company has announced plans to acquire Bio Sunkeen in a RMB60 million (US$9.2 million) deal together with local investment corporation Shandong Lufa Holding company. The acquisition is expected to complete in August, and would be held under a new joint venture company called Angel Yeast (Jining).

Bio Sunkeen is a China-based producer of yeast, food ingredients, animal feed and organic fertilizer. According to Chen Hongwei, general manager of Angel Yeast (Jining), the company will utilise Bio Sunkeen’s existing facilities, with expansion plans in the future.

Beyond China and India: Malaysian palm oil industry seeks to broaden export opportunities – MPOC exclusive part 1

The new leadership team at the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) has revealed plans to increase industry engagement as well as diversify the country’s major export markets beyond China and India.

MPOC is Malaysia’s foremost palm oil advocacy industry body, working together with the Malaysian Palm Oil Association (MPOA) which primarily represents producers, and the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) which engages in R&D, and the Malaysian Palm Oil Certification Council (MPOCC) which works on standards and certifications to advance the local palm oil industry.

India and China remain the biggest export markets for Malaysian palm oil, but newly-appointed MPOC CEO Datuk Dr Wan Zawawi told us that there are major works in place to diversify export markets and shake things up.

“The current palm oil market only has two major palm oil exporters – Indonesia takes about 70% and we take about 26% to 27% and it has been this way for some time,”​ he said in an exclusive interview with FoodNavigator-Asia.

“If we don’t seek to diversify our export markets and find new markets to break into, then this will remain forever stagnant and Malaysia will remain at this 27% - so we need to diversify to break away from traditional markets and this stagnation.

China cultivated products optimism: Industry growth likely to ‘speed-up’ regulatory approvals – national working group

The rapidly growing number of food firms emerging in the cultivated products space in China, along with imminent product launches, is expected to speed-up the regulatory process in the country, according to the national working group.

The cultivated products sector is young in China, but the swiftly growing interest and number of firms getting involved is likely to speed up the policy process once understanding is complete, according to the working group heading the charge in China.

“Since 2019, there have been more and more firms getting interested in the cellular agriculture and cultivated products scene in China, so much so that there are even some local startups in the country now,”​ Ryan Xue, Deputy Secretary General of the Advisory Committee on Nutrition Guidance (ACNG) of the China National Food Industry Association and one of the leaders of the International New Protein Working Group told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

“It always used to be places such as the EU with a headstart in this space, but now we have lots of local firms with local R&D which I believe ill speed up any regulatory approvals we seek with regard whether it is nomenclature or other regulatory issues.

China dairy labelling findings: Consumers most concerned with shelf life than nutrition facts

Consumers in China are more concerned with the production date, shelf life and storage conditions on the labels of dairy products than other information such as nutrition facts, ingredients, certification, origin, and manufacturer.

The questionnaire collected data on demographics and consumers concerns of different parts of a food label including production date, shelf life, storage conditions, storage conditions, production process, nutritional facts, product ingredient list, certification mark, origin, and manufacturers.

Funded by the Ministry of Education in China, this research was published in the International Journal of Food Science.

The analysis revealed that there is not a great deal of research on dairy product label information, especially in China. With the aim to fill this gap, this study looks at the factors that influence Chinese consumers’ identification and attention to dairy product labels​,” researchers wrote.

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