Steps to merge into the market in China

Newton Yau

The economic growth and consumption power growth in China attract all food companies try to step into the merging market. We, however, would like to remind that there are several important steps before you step in. Although most of food companies will start with finding a cooperative person/unit as the first step, we would like to suggest the following steps before you start to find cooperating counterpart or even start to join the food exhibitions held in Mainland China.

Step I Regulation compliance confirmation

The reason to have regulation compliance confirmation as the first step is due to the food related regulations in Mainland China are quite complicated and versatile. We would like to suggest 3 items in this step, they are Compliant regulations categorization, Ingredient review, and Label review. There are at least 5 categories, including general foods, infant/baby formula foods, functional foods, foods for special medical purpose, foods for special dietary, which are different from the most of food regulations in other countries. They all have their own regulations that you need to comply with. So, to identify which category your product would be in is first thing that you need to confirm before you start to do anything there. The classification depends on the ingredients, ingredient contents, product types, your claims on label, intend use (including consumption target).

Step II Market survey

The cultures and consumption behaviors in Mainland China is for sure different from yours. How your product(s) been valued by consumers over there should be clarified before you move to next steps. Either to study by your own or hire professionals to conduct it for you, you need to have your own SWOT table in your mind. The more understanding of your environment, competitors, trends, the better you will be. This part will be more like your intelligence war.

Step III Goal & strategy establishment

You will need to set up your goals and strategies according to the information/intelligence you got from Step II. Either to do by yourself or to hire professionals to conduct it for you, you need to have your own positioning, business plan, value in the chain at this step.

Step IV Exhibition/Cooperating counterpart searching

You can start to search for the exhibitions/marketing activities to join or search for cooperating counterpart, as long as you are clear on your positioning, business plan, value in the chain. You can choose the ones that fit your positioning, business plan, value in the chain.

Step V Regulation compliance

As you find proper marketing activities or potential partners or potential clients, you will need to work on the regulation compliance works again. You may need to get the registrations, approvals, import permits, inspections, reviews from CFDA (part of SAMR) and related Chinese governmental agencies. Some companies will conduct this part before to find the partner/client as the bargain power since you can show your legality to them during the negotiation. Usually, you will need the local ones to do this part. Our suggestion is to hire a third-party license holder (legal representative) to do all these. In this case, you will not be limited by your commercial partner/agent on extending your business in the future, as well as you can keep the commercial secrets of your products (your IP) away from your partner/client in the market.

Step VI Market development

The last step will be the one that you are familiar with in your market. Start to show your competence and develop the market with your local partners/clients.

SAMR/CFDA compliance