To comply with China’s food labelling regulations, all imported foods and beverages have to show a white label attached to the individual bottle, can or packet in Chinese. The labels have to be approved by the Chinese Inspection and Quarantine Service (CIQS). The regulations request product labelling before shipping, but this is difficult to carry out so CIQS does allow labelling in an approved bonded warehouse in China. The ability to provide this labelling service in China is something that exporters should discuss with potential partners or distributors. On the label, the list of ingredients must appear as percentages in descending order of content. Ingredients such as “herbs” or “sugar” must state the specific types. Production dates and best before end dates must also be supplied.
Prior to shipment, to enable the Chinese inspectors to verify the authenticity of the products on arrival, exporters should supply samples of original bottle labels and/or artwork of cans and packets. These should be sent by courier or by email as a PDF (for artwork) to the buyer so that wording can be translated then supplied along with the original to the Chinese port agent at least one week before the expected arrival of the goods into the Chinese port.
Registration of Food and Drink ExportersFood producers exporting to China will soon need to register online with the Chinese government. Since last year, exporters have been registered with the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) through its importers. The main difference now, apart from registration being obligatory, is that exporters can register themselves through the AQSIQ website. The online registration system is still being tested, but will come into force on 1 October 2012. Both systems can be accessed through http://ire.eciq.cn. This includes guidance (in Chinese only) that takes you through the process step-by-step, a home page in Chinese and then a bi-lingual registration form. To help UK companies navigate the site, CBBC are currently producing a step by step guide. To receive a copy, please contact Claire Urry at CBBC (see contact box).
For products of plant or animal origin, the Chinese government requires certification by a UK Government authority. Certain products, such as meat, require special, and often lengthy, negotiations between the recognised competent authorities (The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in the UK and AQSIQ in China). The tables opposite list those product categories that require additional certification and documentation, and those products where exports are not currently permitted from the UK to China.
What official documents are required by UK exporting food and beverage companies?
The table below shows the typical UK-generated export documents that are required for each shipment by Customs and Excise in the Chinese port of entry. Original documents must be signed, stamped and couriered to China (though the Bill of Lading may be sent electronically) to arrive one week before the expected shipment.