China Focus: Traffic light labelling, anti-obesity treatment, infant nutrition brands, Feihe’s shrinking profits, and ready-to-cook foods regulations

By Audrey Yow

- Last updated on GMT

China Focus: Traffic light labelling, anti-obesity treatment, infant nutrition brands, Feihe’s shrinking profits, and ready-to-cook foods regulations

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This edition of China Focus features traffic light labelling in Shanghai, gut microbiota profile in anti-obesity treatment, infant nutrition brands gaining market share, Feihe’s shrinking profits due to low birth rates, and public concerns over food safety for ready-to-cook foods.

Nutri-Grade in China: Shanghai launches traffic light labelling pilot for sugar-sweetened beverages

The local government of Shanghai, China has launched a pilot traffic light labelling scheme for sugar-sweetened beverages, with grades to be implemented based on not only sugar but also saturated and trans-fat content.

The traffic light labelling scheme is similar to those used in other markets such as Singapore (Nutri-Grade) and the United Kingdom (Nutri-Score), and is quite similarly termed as 营养选择 which translates roughly to ‘Nutritional Choice’.

Similar to these other schemes, it utilises a green-to-red colour scheme and the letters A to D to designate the nutritional value of beverages, so the most highly-recommended items would have a dark green ‘A’ label, and the least-recommended ones would have a red ‘D’ label.

Gut microbiota profile could be key to better anti-obesity treatment: China study

Assessing obese individuals’ gut microbiota profiles could lead to a more comprehensive understanding of obesity and how to treat those suffering from the condition, according to researchers in China.

Comprising approximately 100 trillion species, the gut microbiota plays a crucial role in maintaining intestinal function and metabolic health. Alterations in the gut microbiota have been shown to contribute significantly to the development of metabolic disorders such as obesity. While genetics do play a role in shaping the gut microbiota, environmental factors, particularly diet, exert greater influence.

In an effort to better understand the role of gut microbiota in obesity, researchers have conducted studies analysing the gut microbiota characteristics of individuals with different types of obesity. By exploring these characteristics, researchers aim to gain insights into the pathogenesis of obesity and identify potential therapeutic targets for obese individuals.

China formula for success: How major infant nutrition brands are gaining market share despite shrinking birth rates

Several major infant formula brands, including a2 milk and Danone’s Aptamil, are successfully gaining market share despite a shrinking birth rate and tighter regulatory regime in China, their latest financial results have shown.

Others, such as market leader Feihe, however, have commented on the market slowdown, with its sales down 10.3 per cent.

The market share growth seen in some brands might be surprising to some as China’s infant formula market has been shrinking and birth rate was at its lowest last year – with 6.39 births per 1,000 people.

China infant nutrition challenges: Feihe’s profit shrinks 33.5% as country struggles with low birth rate

China’s infant formula giant Feihe says group profit was down 33.5% to RMB$3.29bn (US$455.08m) in FY23, as the country struggles with raising its birth rate despite introducing a three-child policy three years ago.

In its financial results released on March 28, Feihe said that group revenue was down 8.3% year-on-year to RMB$19.53bn (US$2.7bn).

Chairman Leng Youbin cited the low birth rate in China and a highly competitive industry as the primary factors causing the decline.

‘Trash meat’ outcry: China regulators consider ready-to-cook foods regulation amid public furore

China regulators are considering subjecting the local ready-to-cook (RTC) foods category to additional mandatory standards and regulations in response to general public concerns over the food safety and quality.

RTC foods were a major topic of debate at China’s recent high-level Two-Sessions meeting discussing governance and regulatory development in the country, the country’s biggest annual political event attended by the National People’s Congress (NPC) and state political advisory body Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

The category had been under fire after a TV exposé climes Chinese RTC products were being manufactured using poor ingredients and in unsavoury conditions. One of the most jarring discoveries was the use of 槽头肉 or ‘trash meat’ to make some of these.

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