Crowther presenting at China Natural Ingredients Conference

October 27, 2011 Beijing – The 2nd Annual China Natural Ingredients Conference (CNIC) was held on October 27-28th. Organizers Herbridge Media and China Chamber of Commerce for Medicine and Natural Products did a great job of attracting over 200 attendees and providing presentations from both government and industry leaders. Presenters included, President Liu Zhanglin from China Chamber, Dr. David St. George from New Zealand Ministry of Health as well as a list of other expert speakers.

Herbridge’s general manager Gloria Zhang discussed with the association why she began CNIC: “After working in the herbal extract industry for over eight years, I saw the industry was lacking in a variety of areas. I organized CNIC to be a source of information sharing, education and a venue to encourage industry development. I’m so happy to see the conference itself continuing to develop and attracting more companies and industry leaders to attend and share their knowledge.”

The association’s executive director Jeff Crowther attended and presented on the U.S. dietary supplement industry focusing on the latest NDI draft guidance and its implication for Chinese suppliers. Crowther also included a segment called “Opportunities in China” where he focused on China’s potential to become the largest market for dietary supplements with proper regulatory reform.

Also in attendance were association members NSF and Unigen who mentioned the show was well organized and very useful to their overall business in China.

During the lunch break, Crowther sat down with President Liu for a brief Q & A on China’s dietary supplement industry and its regulations as well as its potential. Here’s the transcript translated by Alice Yang:

Crowther: President Liu thank you for taking the time to sit with us during today’s very busy schedule.

Liu: No problem, we are old friends and have cooperated on many events.

Crowther: In short, what is your opinion on the current regulations for dietary supplements in China and the chances for reform?

Liu: Currently, it is very difficult to change the regulations. Though it’s hard to change the main clauses of the regulations, to develop or revise some more detailed rules for implementation should be easier. In fact, U.S.-China HPA is making efforts to encourage this process and we welcome this assistance to work towards regulatory reform. Also, we hope to see a channel for China’s SFDA and U.S. FDA to sit down and talk to each other directly as well as talks between the Ministry of Commerce of both countries and even the WTO could possibly be helpful in developing the industry further.

Crowther: What is the current state of  the importation of U.S. products?

Liu: So far, the main American health products are imported here as general food products not functional health products. If we import as health products, it will be very difficult because SFDA’s registration process is very difficult. We do hope more American health products can be introduced to the Chinese market. I think what we can do now is to open more channels to speak directly to the Chinese government agencies such as SFDA and MOFCOM to make the rules more suitable for the development of the industry; at the same time, continue to introduce high quality health products to the market as food. The consumers will choose and have the final say.

Crowther: It’s time to go eat, so I don’t want to keep you any longer. Any final comments before we head to lunch?

Liu: There is no dietary supplement culture in China. Here mostly the elderly and sick will think of taking dietary supplements. However this is too late because dietary supplements are not drugs and shouldn’t be confused with them. The industry needs to encourage the spread of education, so the common consumers understand better about this industry.

Also, one area that continues to hurt the industry is the amount of fake products and/or the amount of companies using false registrations as well as making exaggerated claims, which ends up cheating the public and damaging the overall image of the industry.

It is strange to see that we have very strict regulations, but such a messy market. We really need to advocate and cultivate a stronger industry culture that can help to protect and educate the public from an early age.

I know in the U.S. many people take products that contain some very good ingredients for the joints. I forget the names….

Crowther: Glucosamine, Chondroitin and MSM?

Liu: Yes, these would be very useful to the Chinese public. Unfortunately, these ingredients are regulated as drugs and are very difficult to import. It really is a pity.

Crowther: President Liu thanks again for taking time out of your busy schedule. The association and its members look forward to our continued cooperation with your Chamber.

Liu: Thank you, now let’s go enjoy lunch.



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