NZ to investigate milk formula fakers

By Wang Xinyuan Source:Global Times Published: 2013-4-19 0:03:01

The New Zealand Infant Formula Exporters Association (NZIFEA) said Thursday it will investigate Chinese fakes of its milk powders in order to protect the interest of genuine brands.

"We are trying to ensure that we maintain the standard and quality of products that are being consumed in China," Michael Barnett, independent chairman of the NZIFEA, told the Global Times via telephone Thursday.

"We observed brands that don't appear to be legitimate," Barnett said. He noted that the association is identifying the copied brands in order to protect the New Zealand brands.

Out of the 200 New Zealand infant formula brands sold in China, only 20 brands from six New Zealand infant formula producers are genuine, the 21st Century Business Herald reported Thursday citing the association.

The six infant formula milk powders are all registered members of the association, including Carrickmore, Naturlait, and YumYum.

Genuine brands registered with the association will begin bearing an authentic logo on their packages, starting in two to three months, said the association.

Currently it is hard to distinguish genuine imported milk powder from copied or repackaged products by looking at the packages, said a customer representative of, an online agent selling baby products.

Infant formula product  from New Zealand to China have grown substantially over recent years, currently accounting for 70 percent of China's milk powder market, Jian Aihua, a food analyst at CIC Industry Research Center, told the Global Times Thursday.

In addition to protecting the interest of genuine New Zealand brands, the association's effort is aimed at distancing itself from the tainted image of some foreign formula producers, Jian said.

China's quarantine administration in November and December 2012 destroyed substandard infant formula products from three New Zealand brands including Cnetirum and Vimila, reigniting fears about the quality of New Zealand's biggest export.

"The new (labeling) measure will protect the interests of Chinese consumers, but it won't stop copied products from entering the market," Chen Lianfang, a dairy analyst at Beijing Orient Agribusiness Consultant Ltd, told the Global Times Thursday.

The package and logo can still be faked, and counterfeiters will take the risk as the profit margin of selling infant formula is high, Chen said.

The gross profit margin is estimated to be 100 to 150 percent for parallel goods or illegitimately imported products, he noted.

The scandal surrounding a domestic baby formula brand tainted with melamine in 2008 shook the confidence of Chinese consumers in domestically made infant formula products, boosting frenzied purchasing of milk powders from overseas nations.

Hong Kong has suffered infant formula shortages several times since 2011, largely due to massive purchases by mainland visitors and smugglers.

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