Chinese officials have provided further advice on the introduction of new regulations affecting New Zealand infant formula exports to China, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye.
“In the past 24 hours, New Zealand officials have been formally briefed on the outcome of the Chinese audit of New Zealand manufacturers conducted in March; and given further information in regards to how China will view relationships between brand owners and formula manufacturers,” Mr Guy says. “This information has been conveyed to New Zealand infant formula manufacturers by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) this morning.”
The new regulations will apply to all countries, alongside strict regulations for China’s domestic producers, as part of a long-planned change to China’s regulatory framework for the manufacture and import of infant formula that will come into effect on 1 May this year.
Retail-ready infant formula represents about four per cent of New Zealand’s dairy exports to China, or about $200 million per year. The total dairy trade to China was $5 billion last year.
“Based on advice from Chinese officials we expect most if not all of our 13 manufacturers to achieve registration, although all but one manufacturer have some actions they need to undertake before registration will be complete. MPI has provided details of those changes to the manufacturers this morning and in some cases changes have already been made. MPI will be working closely with the Chinese to help complete the registration process for manufacturers as quickly as possible,” Mr Guy says.
About 90 per cent of New Zealand’s infant formula exports are controlled by manufacturers who are working through this registration process.
For the remaining approximately 10 per cent of infant formula exports, the changes required will be more complex.
“Chinese officials have made it clear that they will require a close association between the brand owner and the manufacturer. Yesterday they formally advised that in practice that means the brand owner having clear control over the manufacturing process and the product formulation for their brand,” Ms Kaye says.
“This will impact on those brand-owners who are unable to prove that close association. MPI will work with those brand-owners to advise them of options that could bring their brands into line with the new regulations. However the new requirements will have a very significant impact on those exporters that are unable to demonstrate a close association. Our Embassy in Beijing is seeking transition arrangements to help those brand owners who need to make significant changes.
“We know that all infant formula produced after 1 May 2014 for export to China, from any country, will need to meet the same requirements. New Zealand agencies including MPI, NZTE and MFAT will continue to work closely with all New Zealand exporters to meet the new regulations. MPI is sending a senior official to Beijing in the next few days to assist in the transition process.”