April 19, 2012 Beijing – China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) organized its annual outward investment and export conference, which is divided into many industries and regions. This year’s event was held at the Beijing International Hotel. CCPIT invited the association to give an introduction to the U.S. dietary supplement regulatory and market environment.
Although this event is entitled as a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) forum many of the TCM industry’s ingredients make their way to the U.S. as dietary supplement ingredients such as Dang Gui, Ginseng, Goji, Cordyceps, etc. Jeff Crowther discussed the difficulties involved in bringing a finished TCM product to the U.S. market due to a lack of appropriate sales channels, customer preceptions and regulatory restrictions on importing products as medicine that have not been approved by U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Crowther said, at this time, Chinese manufacturers should remain focused on supplying ingredients. However, quality and consistency are on going problems that suppliers should work hard to rectify. The forum attracted about 100 companies to the event and was attended by the State Administration of TCM, The Chinese Medicine Association, China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Medicines and Health Products (CCCMHPIE) and CCPIT leaders. Vice President Liu Zhanglin from CCCMHPIE highlighted some statistics about herbal ingredients industry. Liu discussed the great achievement of two TCM companies getting their formulas approved as drugs in foreign markets. He said there are approximately 2,700 Chinese companies involved in the TCM industry and pointed out that Tong Ren Tang is the leader in exports totaling U.S.$ 36 million in 2011. Liu discussed some other figures but mentioned because import/export codes don’t always match the products, it is very difficult to get accurate numbers. For example, some health products are imported into China as food not health products, so they go uncounted. Liu also made note that Chinese companies need to improve their R & D, standard operating procedures and overall moral code to improve products and industry reputation especially with foreign markets.