From an investment standpoint the Chinese dairy market has been one of the most desirable markets across the globe. The huge population and poor reputation of domestic dairy products has led to an enormous demand for overseas dairy, particularly baby formula. However constant changes in regulations and standards have made the Chinese market an extremely difficult nut for foreign enterprises to crack. Every year a significant volume of imported dairy products fail to pass customs inspection and quarantine and are held at port or destroyed. In the majority of cases lack of regulatory knowledge and failure to comply with regulations are primary causative factors in customs inspection failure at port.
To facilitate market access it is advisable to arm yourself with a rudimentary understanding of Chinese dairy regulations and dairy product standards
1. Main competent authorities and organizations
*China has undergone department restructure in 2018. If you are confused about the competent authorities, please click here to read more.
2. Main regulations for dairy products
2.1. National food safety standards
GB 19301-2010 食品安全国家标准 生乳
GB 19301-2010 National Food Safety Standard Raw Milk
GB 19645-2010 食品安全国家标准 巴氏杀菌乳
GB 19645-2010 National Food Safety Standard Pasteurized Milk
GB 25190-2010 食品安全国家标准 灭菌乳
GB 25190-2010 National Food Safety Standard Sterilized Milk
GB 25191-2010 食品安全国家标准 调制乳
GB 25191-2010 National Food Safety Standard Modified Milk
GB 19302-2010 食品安全国家标准 发酵乳
GB 19302-2010 National Food Safety Standard Fermented Milk
GB 13102-2010 食品安全国家标准 炼乳
GB 13102-2010 National Food Safety Standard Evaporated Milk, Sweetened Condensed Milk and Formulated Condensed Milk
GB 19644-2010 食品安全国家标准 乳粉
GB 19644-2010 National Food Safety Standard Milk Powder
GB 11674-2010 食品安全国家标准 乳清粉和乳清蛋白粉
GB 11674-2010 National Food Safety Standard Whey Powder and Whey Protein Powder
GB 19646—2010 食品安全国家标准 稀奶油、奶油和无水奶油
GB 19646-2010 National Food Safety Standard Cream, Butter and Anhydrous Milkfat
GB 5420-2021 食品安全国家标准 干酪
GB 5420-2021 National Food Safety Standard Cheese
GB 25192-2010 食品安全国家标准 再制干酪
GB 25192-2010 National Food Safety Standard Process(ed) Cheese
GB 23790-2010 食品安全国家标准 粉状婴幼儿配方食品良好生产规范
GB 23790-2010 National Food Safety Standard Good Manufacturing Practice for Powdered Formulae for Infants and Young Children
GB 5413.30-2016 食品安全国家标准 乳和乳制品杂质度的测定
GB 5413.30-2016 National Food Safety Standard Determination of Impurities in Milk and Milk Products
GB 5413.29-2010 食品安全国家标准 婴幼儿食品和乳品中溶解性的测定
GB 5413.29-2010 National Food Safety Standard Determination of Solubility in Foods for Infants and Young Children, Milk and Milk products
GB 5413.5-2010 食品安全国家标准 婴幼儿食品和乳品中乳糖、蔗糖的测定
GB 5413.5-2010 National Food Safety Standard Determination of Lactose and Sucrose in Foods for Infants and Young Children, Milk and Milk Products
GB 5413.6-2010 食品安全国家标准 婴幼儿食品和乳品中不溶性膳食纤维的测定
GB 5413.6-2010 National Food Safety Standard Determination of Insoluble Dietary Fiber in Foods for Infants and Young Children, Milk and Milk Products
GB 5413.14-2010 食品安全国家标准 婴幼儿食品和乳品中维生素B12的测定
GB 5413.14-2010 National Food Safety Standard Determination of Vitamin B12 in Foods for Infants and Young Children, Milk and Milk Products
GB 5413.18-2010 食品安全国家标准 婴幼儿食品和乳品中维生素C的测定
GB 5413.18-2010 National Food Safety Standard Determination of Vitamin C in Foods for Infants and Young Children,Milk and Milk Products
GB 5413.36-2010 食品安全国家标准 婴幼儿食品和乳品中反式脂肪酸的测定
GB 5413.36-2010 National Food Safety Standard Determination of Trans Fatty Acids in Foods for Infants and Young Children,Milk and Milk Products
GB 5009.24-2016 食品安全国家标准 食品中黄曲霉毒素M族的测定
GB 5009.24-2016 National Food Safety Standard Determination of M-Group Aflatoxins in Foods
GB 22031-2010 食品安全国家标准 干酪及加工干酪制品中添加的柠檬酸盐的测定
GB 22031-2010 National Food Safety Standard Determination of Added Citrate Content in Cheese and Processed Cheese Products
GB 5413.38-2016 食品安全国家标准 生乳冰点的测定
GB 5413.38-2016 National Food Safety Standard Determination of Freezing Point in Raw Milk
GB 5413.39-2010 食品安全国家标准 乳和乳制品中非脂乳固体的测定
GB 5413.39-2010 National Food Safety Standard Determination of Nonfat Total Milk Solids in Milk and Milk Products
2.2. Regulations for imported dairy products
MOFCOM Announcement No.50-2009
Adjustment of Catalogue of Staple Agricultural Products Subject to Import Report Administration
Fresh milk, milk powder and whey are newly added to this catalogue. The importers should report required information to the department.
MOFCOM and GAC Jointly Announcement No.45-2009
Announcement on Implementing automatic import licensing administration on fresh milk, milk powder and whey.
The importer of the three products should apply for an automatic import licenses from department designated by MOFCOM.
GACC announcement Decree 249-2021
|GAC annoucement Decree 248-2021||Administrative Provisions on Registration of Overseas Manufacturers of Imported Foods||中华人民共和国进口食品境外生产企业注册管理规定||2022-1-1|
former AQSIQ Announcement No.133-2013
Announcement on Enhancing the Imported Baby Formula Management (Chemlinked news)
关于加强进口婴幼儿配方乳粉管理的公告 (Original text)
From 1 Apr 2014, imported baby formula must have the Chinese labels printed on the can or boxes already before entry of the country.
List of China-Approved Overseas Dairy Manufacturers
中国批准的国外乳制品生产企业 (Official link)
3. Labeling and claims for dairy products
All prepackaged foods including dairy products are mainly subject to the labelling requirements in the following three standards:
According to GB 7718-2011 and GB 28050-2011, imported product labels require the following information:
Name of the product
Energy and nutrients
Instruction for use and the target population group
Country of origin
Name, address and contact information of domestic agent, importer or distributor
Date of production and shelf life
Since overseas dairy manufacturers exporting to China are required to be registered with SAMR, every approved manufacturer has a unique registration NO. This number should be indicated on the Chinese labels as well. In some regions, local SAMR requires the name of manufacturer to appear on the label.
The labeling requirements for imported infant formula are very specific and supervision is extremely stringent. According to AQSIQ Announcement No.133-2013 , Chinese labels of imported infant formula must be printed on the cans or boxes before they arrive at port.
Claims are allowed on baby formula in China. The claims include a) content claims and b) function claims (GB 13432-2013 Q&A Revised Version). Content claims are those that describe nutritional features such as the energy level, protein level. Function claims are those stating ingredients can help/maintain the growth/normal physical functions etc. For content claims, when the energy or the ingredients achieve the minimum requirements or the minimum fortification requirements, content claims can be made. Functional claims could be made when the nutritional ingredients meet the requirements of content claims, however there are other requirements. Functional claims can only be made using standardized terminology as articulated in GB28050 and GB13432-2013 Q&A Revised Version.
According to GB 13432-2013, since babies at age of 0-6months need complete and balanced nutrition, no claims can be made on mandatory ingredients of baby formula (0-6 months).
4. Obligation checklist for exporters of dairy products
4.1. Registration of overseas dairy manufacturers
According to the latest "Provisions on Registration of Overseas Manufacturers of Imported Foods", all of overseas enterprises exporting food to China shall be registered with GAC, and overseas dairy manufacturers are subject to recommendation registration.
Click the link below to check the registered overseas dairy manufacturers:
4.2. Exporter filing
For exporters firstly exporting their food products to China, they need to finish on-line filing with GAC. Please click here for a step by step guidance to assist you in meeting this obligation.
4.3. What can be written on the package?
According to GB 7718-2011, labels should include name, list of ingredients, net content, size, producers and distributor’s name, address and contact details, date of production and shelf life, storage conditions, food production license number and product standard code. According to GB13432-2013, apart from the general requirement, it should also include energy and nutrition labeling, consumption method, suitable consumer and storage conditions.
All imported dairy products must have Chinese labels which are very important during customs inspection and post-market supervision. A substandard label may lead to goods being held at port and costly penalties.
4.4. Testing report
For dairy products imported for the first time, a test report on the items specified in the corresponding national food safety standards should be provided.
For dairy products not imported for the first time, a copy of the test report for the first time of importation and a test report on the items required by GACC shall be provided. In this situation, test report items are determined by GACC according to the dairy risk monitoring and other relevant circumstances. You can find the detailed items on the official website http://jckspj.customs.gov.cn — "Information Services — Inspection and Quarantine Requirements ".
When imported foods arrive at port, they are subject to spot check by GAC inspectors and samples will be sent to accredited Chinese food labs for testing according to relevant national standards. Based on the regulation, three kinds of test reports are all acceptable by GAC. However, testing reports issued by oversea labs may not be recognized by GAC or there maybe inconsistencies in results generated by overseas labs and GAC recognized labs in China as the test facilities and methods are different. Therefore, in order to ensure the consistency of testing reports, overseas exporters can find a Chinese lab which is recognized by the local customs in the same province as the destination port.
5. Obligation checklist for importers of dairy products
There are so many requirements to meet to be a qualified importer of dairy products in China. Preparation work includes:
Food distribution license
local administration for industry & commerce
Filing of staple agricultural products (for fresh milk, milk powder and whey)
Automatic import license (for fresh milk, milk powder and whey)
Quota & License Administration Bureau and other local departments under MOFCOM
The customs inspection and quarantine procedures include:
Apply for the quarantine approval at GAC: raw milk (HS Code: 0401200000), raw milk products (HS Code: 0403100000, 0406100000, 0406200000, 0406300000, 0406400000, 0406900000) and pasteurized milk (HS Code: 0401100000, 0401200000) are three categories that should go through quarantine by GAC.
Apply for customs inspection by submitting required documents
GAC conducts inspection (select sample and send them to its recognized lab for compliance test)
the importer or its agent applies for the label filing with local customs by submitting required documents;
Compliant goods are allowed to be imported but unqualified goods are rejected or destroyed by the customs.
Click here for more details regarding the inspection and quaratine requirements of dairy products.
Some local authorities issued specific guidance for importers who import dairy products, please click here to see Guangzhou customs' guidance.
After dairy products enter the market, the importer should establish the importation and sales record for future reference according to the Administrative Provisions on Recording of Importing and Sales of Foods (former AQSIQ Announcement No.55-2012).
6. Compliance advice
Formulation, Chinese label design and testing of dairy products are the most challenging parts for dairy products entering into Chinese markets. After that, a trusted importer or a third party service provider experienced in dealing with Chinese food regulation will be able to fully ensure regulatory compliance. To further substantiate your products compliance with Chinese national standards it is wise to entrust an authoritative Chinese lab to carry out testing. When the goods are to be shipped to a port in China, delivering a small amount to go through all customs procedures can help in avoiding big risks and will pave the way for subsequent shipments.