Shanghai’s supermarkets teem with “patched” imported-products. New goods were found with “homemade” adjustments on its package aiming to render them compliant with the Chinese rules. Advertising on food packaging in China is subject to stringent regulations [see Food products advertising in China and Impact of mislabeling on food products sales]. In this case, products from US are labeled as “organic”. Although such labeling is compliant with US regulation, this is not the case for PRC regulations.
Most likely for this reason, the word ORGANIC on their packaging was covered with a patch, in order to prevent potential sanctions or complaints by customers. Needless to say, those patches often look suspicious to consumers and do not enhance the products’ appeal.
According to Administrative Measures for Organic Product Certification in force in China since 2013, no “organic” claim – even in the English language – can be reported on the package, unless the proper certificate has been granted by the relevant authorities (CQCC). More and more AIC throughout China appear to enforce this provision. This is the reason whereby more and more foreign brands apply for organic certification with CQCC: it is the case, for example, of this brand from Italy – Alce Nero. By obtaining the CQCC organic status, it can legally brand its pasta as organic – both in Chinese (有机) and in English.
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According to the Ministry of Agriculture data, organic food market in China is growing 30-50% and is more and more interesting for food companies, as PRC consumers prove keen on spending premium prices for organic products.