Chocolate in China—Catch up the opportunities and reduce losses

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With the improvement of Chinese consumption level, the consumption quantity of chocolate in China has increased a lot during past years. Since 2015, chocolate import in China continues to grow strongly, which has achieved 19.347 billion in sales, with year-on-year growth up to 12%.

Except daily consumption, chocolate is more popular to send as gift to lovers during February 14th  (Western Valentine’s Day) and the traditional Chinese Double-Seventh Day (which is considered as Chinese Valentine’s Day). Therefore, these festivals constitute the emerging chocolate consumption season in China in recent years.


In order to import chocolate to China smoothly and support oversea chocolate manufactories/ exporters/importers to have a better understand of Chinese standard laws and regulations of chocolate and the relevant previous food safety incidents and import & export notification cases. FoodMate briefly summarizes the relevant knowledge of Chinese chocolate import. For more details, please see “Series of China Imported Food Manuals – Chocolate” compiled by Foodmate.


Since chocolate belongs to ordinary food which just needs importer & exporter filing, Chinese labels preparation and other materials for inspection submission, implementation of inspection and quarantine and other operations, while no more detailed description is shown here.


For chocolate products standard are mainly GB 9678.2-2014 《National food safety standard Chocolate, chocolate and chocolate products with cocoa butter alternatives》 and 《GB/T 19343-2016 “Chocolate and chocolate products, chocolate and chocolate products with cocoa butter alternatives》. The former is a mandatory national food safety standard specifying the food safety requirements that the chocolate products must meet, including basic requirements for sensory, microbiological, contaminant, food additives, etc.; the latter of which is a recommended product standard specifying the classification of chocolate and its products, raw & auxiliary materials requirements and physicochemical indicators and other quality requirements on the basis of food safety requirements. It shall be noted that Chinese Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureaus carry out inspections during the import process mainly according to the national food safety standards.


In July 2016, a test from a German non-governmental food inspection organization made the world famous chocolate brand Ferrero into a carcinogenic trouble, Kinder chocolate was accused of containing carcinogens “aromatic hydrocarbons mineral oil”. Mineral oil is a common problem across the industry, at present most countries and regions have not specified the limits in the food, therefore, Foodmate suggests that chocolate companies should closely follow up the latest research on “aromatic hydrocarbons mineral oil” and response in advance.


According Foodmate sampling inspection enquiry & analysis system, the unqualified reasons for imported chocolate in China are mainly labeling incompliance, additives usage out of scope, microorganism, heavy metals exceeding the limit. Unqualified products of imported chocolate mainly come from Belgium, Italy, Vietnam, Switzerland, South Korea, which accounts for more >50% imported unqualified chocolate.


In addition, Foodmate gets the news that GB 7718 (recently begin to be revised) has confirmed that allergens shall be mandatorily labeled in the future, which will be sure influence the labeling and related enterprises should closely follow up the revision progress and prepare in advance.