The MOU formally outlines a process in which third-party certification bodies, on FDA’s behalf, will audit US dairy facilities to make sure they comply with Chinese food safety requirements before exporting dairy products.
The US exported $384m worth of dairy products to China in 2016, making it the industry’s third biggest single-country export market, behind Mexico and Canada. Even though Chinese demand for imported milk and other dairy products has been increasing, market access has been a challenge for the US, according to USDEC.
“China is already the world’s largest dairy importer, even though per capita consumption remains far below that of the United States, Europe and even its Asian neighbors like Japan and South Korea. The potential to increase exports there is tremendous,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of USDEC, said.
Gaining Chinese compliance
USDEC, NMPF, and the US FDA have been working with the Certification and Accreditation and Administration of the People’s Republic of China (CNCA) since 2014 to implement a registration process for the trade of US dairy products to China.
In May 2014, the Chinese government implemented Decree 145, a new food safety regulation spanning multiple food categories. The decree mandated that a nation must register and certify dairy facilities that want to ship to China and meet Chinese food safety standards.
Until the US met and complied with those standards, no new US dairy plants could be added to China’s list, leaving US dairy processors with less export options. The recent MOU provides the needed long-term solution.
“There was never a question of US product safety. It was more a question of compliance with regulations between two countries with rigid regulatory systems,” USDEC said in a press statement.
Before US companies can begin shipping, their plant must officially be listed as registered on the CNCA website, which is expected to happen soon, according to USDEC.