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Quality exported food turns to home market

By Wang Xiaodong | China Daily | Updated: 2017-07-21 07:19
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More than 1,500 companies that once produced food to high standards chiefly for export are now selling products made to the same standards on the Chinese market, according to authorities that oversee quality.

More than 10 billion yuan ($1.48 billion) of such products were ordered last year in China, according to the Certification and Accreditation Administration.

A campaign launched early last year encouraged the nation's food exporters to make products for domestic consumption using the same production processes as for overseas markets, to ensure the same level of quality.

The campaign covered 5,778 products, largely agricultural and other food products, with most producers based in Shandong, Guangdong, Fujian, Hebei and Liaoning provinces, the administration said.

For example, in Guangdong, 189 food export companies now sell more than 500 foods, including frozen snacks, seasonings, biscuits, nuts, meat and egg products at 4,130 stores across China.

The administration said other goods will be covered in the future to better meet consumer demand.

With the initiative, Chinese people may not have to go overseas to buy high-quality products that are actually made in China and exported-such as electrical pots and toilet covers-as has been the case in the past.

In the long run, the administration said, encouraging the same standards for exported and domestic goods can help improve overall food safety in China and boost consumption.

Qiao Yajun, operations manager at Longnan Changcheng Fruit Juice Co in Gansu province, which began selling its concentrated apple juice, its chief product, in China around 2015, said domestic sales now account for about 20 percent of its total sales.

Previously, the company, which is certified as a food exporter, only sold its apple juice outside China in 24 countries and regions, including North America and Europe, he said.

"The overseas market has not been performing well in recent years because of the economic downturn," Qiao said. "We hope our business can develop faster in the domestic market."

The company is promoting its products in the domestic market but faces challenges such as production costs that are higher than its Chinese competitors-because of its higher quality standards-and a lack of brand recognition in China, he said.

The apple juice, which has no additives under export standards, is packaged in 250-milliliter containers and sells for about 4 yuan per package-about 50 percent higher than many other similar products sold in domestic stores, he said.

"We have been participating in big trade exhibitions to promote our products," he said. "We are also planning to open an online store on major e-commerce platforms such as Tmall."

The Certification and Accreditation Administration said it will continue to provide guidance to export companies to promote sales in the domestic market.

China has nearly 20,000 certified companies that export food and agricultural products valued at more than $50 billion to more than 180 countries and regions every year, according to the administration.

The country strictly supervises the companies to ensure that the food meets both national standards and the standards of the destination countries and regions. For many years, virtually all food produced in China for export is up to standards, the administration said.

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