Viplus Dairy banned from China infant formula market
Yesterday, China banned Viplus Dairy, a Victorian infant formula maker, from selling its products on the mainland. No reason has been given for the ban.
The ban follows the suspension by China of Viplus’ import licence on 4 November 2016.
Problems have been gathering for the Australian dairy industry since June 2016 when the Certification and Accreditation Administration of China (CNCA) blocked a shipment of 3.8 tonnes of Viplus formula on the grounds of incorrect labelling.
The problems are however just the most recent in a series of Chinese import restriction problems being faced by Australian and other foreign exporters of dairy products into China.
Follows on from Camperdown Dairy problems in China
In August 2016, the Chinese authorities put the entire Australian dairy industry on notice by alleging Camperdown Dairy Company’s fresh milk exports contained harmful bacteria.
Despite having been cleared of any food safety concerns by Australian authorities, Camperdown has chosen not to resume fresh milk exports to China in order to protect its brand citing a lack of control over the supply chain.
Viplus, which was established in 2013 with the backing of Chinese investors, is believed to have run into its problems after an accusation was made by a whistleblower employee in November 2015 of using expired base powder in one of its products.
The complaint was made in ignorance of a shelf life extension issued by the powder manufacturer and approved by the New Zealand Department of Primary Industries (NZDPI).
An investigation of Viplas’ practices, procedures and records by Australian authorities, failed to identify any food concerns.
The accusations in August 2016 against Camperdown seem to have coincided with a prominent national campaign by Chinese authorities to encourage Chinese consumers to turn to Chinese products, including foods and beverages.
New foreign food e-commerce food restrictions coming in May 2017
In May 2017, China is expected to introduce new regulations which will also apply to cross-border e-commerce purchases of Australian food products.
Currently, food products arriving in China through e-commerce distribution are able to be sold with no changes to aspects such as labelling, provided that they have complied with the regulatory requirements of the place where they were first sold (e.g. an Australian sourced product being in compliance with Australian food labelling requirements)
However, the incoming laws in May 2017 will mean these products will now be required to meet the Chinese retail label requirements. In some instances this could result in a lengthy compliance and approval process. Imported products sold through e-commerce would also have to meet the same requirements as Chinese-made goods.
FoodLeagl Export/Import Symposium
On 22 November 2016, FoodLegal will be hosting its ‘Food Import/Exports – Promises and Pitfalls’ symposium in Sydney. Information on speakers can be found HERE. Further information on the symposium can be found HERE. Tickets can be purchased HERE.
Monash University is hosting an industry breakfast on food fraud and Asia.
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