Suggestion: Watch the 10 minutes video tutorial before reading this article
Baby formula is one of the most imported products in China as the Chinese put the trust to foreign brands
With that said, comparably strict regulations apply for baby formula and it’s important that you confirm the local regulations, before you start exporting.
There’s also little information about what freight option to use and how to pack the products. This makes it difficult for foreigners to enter China and who have a little about the market.
In this article, you’ll learn about the following:
- The Market for Baby Formula in China
- Import Regulations for Baby Formula in China
- General Laws and Regulations
- GB Standards for Baby Formula
- The process when Exporting Baby Formula to China
- How to Ship Baby Formula to China
Market for Baby Formula in China
As mentioned in previous articles, Chinese people often choose to buy foreign food products as they don’t trust the quality of local brands. Baby formula is not an exception.
I completely understand them as a number of scandals have evolved over the years, the most infamous one is the melamine scandal that occurred in 2008.
Even if I don’t have any children yet, I think we can both agree that we would do everything conceivable, and be ready to pay what’s needed, to assure that our children are healthy.
Many Chinese have managed to resolve this problem as they buy baby formula in places like Hong Kong and Australia when going on trips overseas. This sales channel is referred to as Daigou, which is a website where you can bring food products from overseas and sell them online.
It’s also common that Chinese living overseas, such as younger students, earn decent incomes by selling baby formula back home.
The baby boom in China increase the demand for baby formula
Keep in mind that the one-child policy was removed in 2015, which has created a baby boom. Nowadays, you’re allowed to have two children, or more, instead of one, meaning that more mouths need to be fed.
As the Chinese get wealthier, are allowed to have more babies, and show a higher appreciation of foreign products, the demand for baby formula will continue to be high.
75% of all Chinese mothers use baby formula for their babies, which speaks for itself. Even if the economy has slowed down in China, the demand for baby formula will continue to be high.
Import Regulations for Baby Formula in China
As the baby formula is consumed by humans, and specifically babies, strict regulations apply to food safety.
In order to manage imports into the Chinese market, you need to assure that your products meet a number of GB (Guobiao) standards in China, which are similar to ISO standards.
The GB standards have often derived from Western ISO standards, hence you shouldn’t have big issues to export your products, you just need to get your products tested, labeled, and acquire the certification needed.
CFDA registration of factories required as of January 1, 2018
China’s government has introduced new regulations saying that factories producing baby formula must be registered at CFDA (China’s Food and Drug Administration).
You’ll also be subject to safety inspections and limited to working with 3 formula brands from that same factory.
General Laws and Regulations
Below I’ve listed the general laws and regulations when exporting baby formula to China.
- The food safety law of China
- The Administrative Measure of Imported and Exported Food Safety
- The Administrative Measure of Inspection, Quarantine, and Supervision of Imported and Exported Dairy Products
- The AQSIQ Notice of the Implementation Requirements about “The Administrative Measure of Inspection, Quarantine, and Supervision of Imported and Exported Dairy Products”
- The AQSIQ Notice about Strengthening the Management of Imported Infant Formula Milk Powder
- The Administrative Measures on the Formula Registration of Infant Formula Milk Powder
- Dossier and requirements of product formula registration of Infant formula milk powder
- On-site inspection key point and judgment principles on product formula registration of infant formula milk powder
- Administrative measures on overseas manufacturer registration of imported food
- Administrative measures on product formula registration of infant formula milk powder
- AQSIQ notice of strengthening the management of imported infant formula milk powder
GB Standards for Baby Formula
- GB 10767 2010: Older infants and young children formula
- GB 10765 2010: Infant Formula
- GB 13432 2013: General rules for the labeling of pre-packaged food for special dietary use
- GB 14880-2012 Food Safety National Standards for the Usage of Nutrition Enrichment
- GB 2760-2014 Food Safety National Standards for the Usage of Food Additives
- GB 28050-2011 General Rules for Nutrition Labeling of Prepackaged Foods
- GB 7718-2011 General Rules for the Labeling of Prepackaged Food
Process When Exporting Baby formula to China
It’s important that you understand the complete process before you start exporting your baby formula products to China. The process is generally as follows:
- Make sure that China allows imports of baby formula from your country of manufacture
- Find a local distributor or agent (can be found at trade fairs for example)
- Register your company with AQSIQ. They will make an individual evaluation
- Register your formula at CFDA (China Food and Drug Administration)
- Confirm that your products meet national regulations and GB standards
- Prepare the labels (keep in mind that there are GB-standards and general regulations for labeling)
- Attach the labels to the products before shipment, or in a supervised warehouse at the port of destination (before the goods can be cleared)
- CIQ to perform an inspection of the products, labels, and packaging when goods arrive in China
- Customs clearance (after CIQ acceptance)
Import Duty for Baby Formula
In December 2017, the Chinese government reduced the import duty from 20% to 0% for baby formula. This shows China’s strong effort trying to import more formula from overseas.
This leaves room for more foreign exporters to penetrate the Chinese market, increasing the competition for local producers.
How to Ship Baby Formula to China
You can ship the formulas by either air or sea freight, depending on how fast you need to get the products into China.
While formulas should be consumed directly after preparation, the packages should be sent unopened and stored room tempered (without excessive temperatures).
Preferably, put the formula packages in vacuum bags prior to shipments. The products should also be put in cardboard boxes that are sealed well.
If you sell the products via sea freight, you’ll most likely use Reefer containers, which are typically used for the exports of meat products as well.
Below I have included some commonly asked questions and our replies.
Can I ship baby formula to China?
Shipping companies have introduced restrictions and you can generally sell up to around 6 cans to private persons for personal use.
With that said, you can sell baby formula cross-border on websites like Tmall Global and JD Worldwide.
Does Australia export baby formula to China?
Australia is a big trading partner of China and of dairy products. As much as 30% of Australia’s dairy products are exported overseas and mainly to Asian markets. 1/3 of that is exported to China.
Is selling baby formula to China illegal?
It is not illegal per se, but you have to meet local requirements if you plan to import the products. If you sell cross-border, you have to at least register with the customs and preferably with the CIQ.
Baby formula is one of the most imported products in China, it’s not strange as a number of scandals have affected the Chinese people’s trust in local brands.
As it’s consumed by humans, and specifically babies, strict regulations apply to imports of baby formula. Prior to exportation, you need to register your company with AQSIQ, CFDA, conduct product testing, and get correct labels, just to mention a few.
The products can be shipped by air or sea freight, depending on how quickly you need to get the products into China. Keep in mind that the products shouldn’t be subject to excessive temperatures and preferably packed in vacuum bags.
If you want to know more about exporting baby formula in China, I recommend you to read the complete article. I also recommend you to read my separate article, that explains how you can export food products to China.