The seam of white gold that is the flow of infant milk formula to China has all but dried up.
Last year, it was worth $76 million to Australian exporters, up from $56 million in 2011.
But the Chinese authorities have cracked down on dodgy deals and fake brands and are requiring infant formula manufacturers from around the world to register properly.
It’s reduced the number of imported brands from 1,000 to fewer than 100.
The Chinese Certification and Accreditation Administration (CNCA) has the power to register manufacturers and brands, and of the 19 Australian companies who export, only two have been registered by China.
Wattle Health Foods executive Lazarus Karasavvidis says his company’s infant formula exports to China have stopped.
“To China, we’re doing zero exports due to the restrictions that have been placed on our organisation and many organisations throughout Australia.
“This all took place from May 1 when CNCA came and audited many manufacturers in Australia.
“From my understanding, there are only three labels that have been approved, one of which is Murray Goulburn’s own label and the other is ADP, Australian Dairy Park, in Victoria.”
He says it’s a crackdown on the ‘me-too’ brands that purport to be from Australia.
“They want to see quality on brands and see traceability between the manufacturer, the owner and distributor in China.
“I believe the Chinese Government is fully within its rights to scrutinise this process.”
But he believes the process has been drawn out too long.
Mr Karasavvidis believes the CNCA accreditation authority will soon hold another round of registrations, when a further six more manufacturers will be re-registered.
Dairy Australia’s Group Manager of Trade Charles McElhone says China is tightening regulations on both imported and domestic dairy.
He says China will continue to be a booming market for all things dairy.
“We have 16 million babies born in China last year, and a relaxation of the one child policy, so we’ll have a further three to four million children on top of the 16 million.
“There is going to be demand, particularly from clean and safe suppliers like Australia, we just have to get over this period as the regulations are bedded down.”
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