Six 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. You may face the different requirements for novel ingredient, dietary supplements, functional foods, as well as unique non-conventional foods.

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.

Taiwan is the Bridgehead for you to step into the huge market in Mainland China. SCG is your partner to step into the markets at your premarketing stage. Services of compliance review and compliance strategy can be provided.

SAMR/CFDA compliance

The unique non-conventional foods regulations in the Greater China

Q What is the Greater China ?

A The Greater China covers mainland China (CN), Taiwan (TW), and Hong Kong (HK). Same language in speaking while different in writing.

Q Are the regulations the same in the Greater China ?

A No, they are not the same.

  1. The regulations administrative authorities are different in these 3 areas.
  2. The regulations/requirements/guidelines are different in these 3 areas.
  3. The definitions/terms of food related categories are different in these 3 areas.
  4. The Chinese versions will be different in these 3 areas. Both TW and HK will employ the Chinese in traditional version in writing while CN will employ the Chinese in simplified version in writing. These will affect the labels on the products.

Q What do the unique non-conventional foods cover ?

A The unique non-conventional foods cover so called health foods, functional foods, dietary supplements, foods with nutritional/health claim/functional claim, foods in capsule/tablet form, foods for medical purpose, food of special nutrients, novel foods, novel food ingredients, new dietary ingredients, non-traditional edible ingredients, sports nutrition food, foods for elderly, foods for certain patient, infant formula which will be regulated by certain regulations/requirements/guidelines compared to those so called common/regular/conventional foods in different areas. Even the terms in Chinese will be different on these [non-conventional foods] in these 3 areas.

Q Will my XXX product can be common/regular/conventional food category ?

A Usually the answer will be no if your food got health/functional claim or your foods made from certain novel/non-traditional ingredient (no consumption history in certain area) or your food is for certain sub-population/sub-group. The definitions of novel including the new species, new process, and new compound. You can have a preview compliance assessment on this question.

Q Will my XXX ingredient can be employed in the Greater China ?

A The answer will be depends after compliance study. You can have a preview compliance assessment on this question.

Q What is the regulatory status/assessment for XXX in certain area (like CN/TW/HK) ?

A The answer will be depends after compliance study. You can have a compliance assessment report on this question.

Q What is standards for XXX in certain area ?

A You can have a compliance assessment report on this question.