Solving food distrust proves fundamental

By Chang An Source:Global Times Published: 2013-4-27 19:58:01

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Chinese mainland parents snapping up baby formula in other countries or regions is having an increasingly international impact. Many countries and regions have imposed a limit on such purchases.

Recently, even the Chinese General Administration of Customs stated that it would severely crack down on baby formula, not for personal use, being carried across the border.

It is foreseeable that related domestic industries will be protected through this method. Parents will be forced back to domestic markets. On the surface, Chinese customs' active searches can prevent more parents from continuingly losing face in foreign countries and other regions.

However, to resolve the baby formula problem, the only solution is to solve it from the root, not the branches.

Last month, one of my friends asked me to buy two cans of baby formula back to mainland for his two-year-old daughter. I found the price of his desired brand of formula milk was $32.2 every can, while its price in the mainland was only about $28.3. I telephoned my friend to confirm whether he still needed this more expensive one. The answer is "Sure! Cheap ones in China's quality are uncertain."

Many Chinese have a deep-seated feeling that foreign goods are a guarantee of quality. For them, for the same products, the ones being sold in foreign markets are better than those in the mainland. So when quality problems affect babies, parents become extremely cautious.

Besides taking active steps to save its international image, the Chinese government can do more. Quality problems have existed for years. Forcing parents to buy domestic products will cover up the real problem. Moreover, because of a lack of competition, domestic enterprises will neglect quality issues even more.

If deep-seated problems are not resolved, similar cases will reoccur in future. On the contrary, if our domestic goods are both cheap and high-quality, who would go to the trouble of bringing foreign products back home?

The author is a freelancer in Beijing.

Posted in: Viewpoint

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