With the establishment of China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) on March 19, 2018, pet food regulations have been set for pet foods made and manufactured in China and other countries planning to enter the China market. As a private label pet food brand intending to break into the China market, this information may prove to be valuable for your brand. Read on.
The nutritional and safety standards
In a presentation during the Petfood Forum China 2019 last August 20 in Shanghai, Addiction Foods CEO Jerel Kwek shared the following nutritional standards a pet food brand is measured. For dog food, here are the standards:
Nutritional Standards – Dog Food
For cat food, the standards are as follows:
Nutritional Standards – Cat Food
Jerel Kwek reminded the attendees in the Petfood Forum China that animal nutritionists must “pay special attention to the differences between AAFCO, MARA, and FEDIAF” standards. There are differences in terms of nutrients like protein, ash, calcium, and phosphorus. AAFCO standards are used in the United States and Canada, FEDIAF standards are used in Europe, while MARA standards are being used in China.
Then you also have to register your private label pet food product with MARA. Registering your product with MARA is a complex and drawn-out process. If you will be doing it by yourself, seeking out help and advice from different sources, you will encounter conflicting advice. It is wise, therefore, to find the right partner that will see you through the product registration from start to end.
A summary of MARA Decree No. 20 by Keller and Heckman LLP has an overarching implementing “Regulation on the Administration of Pet Feed” (or Management Rules) applicable to cat feed and dog feed only and divided into the following categories:
- pet compound feed, which can be used alone to meet the comprehensive nutritional needs of pets
- pet feed additive premix, prepared to meet the needs of pets for nutritional feed additives such as amino acids, vitamins, mineral microelements, enzyme preparations, etc.
- other pet feed, prepared for the purpose of rewarding pets, interacting with pets or stimulating pet chewing and biting, etc.
Product licensing. Decree No. 20 also requires local pet food manufacturers to obtain feed production license required under Management Rules, and must also comply with the Licensing Requirements for Pet Feed Manufacturers.
Labeling and hygiene. The same decree also details extensive requirements for pet food labeling, from product names to declaration of ingredients, etc. Here you will find detailed requirements for making claims on the label, including component claims, functional claims, and characteristics claims before you can put them on the label. Any description or promotion about the prevention or treatment of pet diseases is not allowed.
What makes this regulation important is that all pet feed for direct consumption by pet dogs and cats manufactured in China or otherwise, must comply with the hygiene limits specified in the decree. These hygiene limits include those on inorganic contaminants and nitrogenous compounds, mycotoxins, etc.
These are the regulatory compliance you need to address when getting your private label pet food into China. Preparing the requirements alone takes a substantial amount of time. This includes notarization, testing, documentation, submission to your agent of choice, and tests to be done in China. Your journey will definitely take a private label partner that can really help you and your brand.