So far, it was announced this week, only 40 per cent of the present exporters of formula to China —from all international sources, the Australian
proportion is not separately available — have filed applications for the new registrations required.
A spokesman for Australia’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources told The Australian that the China Food and Drug Administration had not provided
a specific timeframe on how long it required to assess an application for brand registration.
But he said: “We have made sure our industry is aware the process can take several months, to ensure they are prepared.”
Dairy manufacturers worldwide must first undergo an audit by the Certification and Accreditation Administration of China, which approves the business
to manufacture particular products for the Chinese market, such as liquid and powdered milk.
Once registered and listed with the CNCA, any infant formula products must gain separate registration from the CFDA, effective from January 1.
The Australian Agriculture department said that “failure to get approval from CFDA by January 1 doesn’t mean companies are permanently excluded from
China. They will still be able to send product to China once they receive approval.”
But such a failure would mean a hiatus during which many competitors’ products would be available instead. And formula users of course can have no
hiatus, they must keep buying.
So far, eight Australian infant formula manufacturers had gained registration from the CNCA, while a further seven were awaiting the outcomes of audits
by the regulator, the DAWR spokesman said.
The new requirements were issued last year, and Beijing-based research body China Policy said that at a recent meeting organised by the CFDA the authorities
stressed that the grace period would not be extended.