The Imported Toothpaste Market Needs to be Reorganized and Regulated
The Imported Toothpaste Market Needs to be Reorganized and Regulated
Source: China Industry News Consumer Goods Weekly
In recent years, with the rising consumption, exotic goods has flooded into the life of ordinary consumers.Toothpaste, as one of daily necessities is no exception. It is reported that Toothpastes are imported to China mainly through three ways.The first is by general trade in accordance with the general import and export regulatory system of China custom.The second is through various thriving cross-border e-commerce platforms.The third way is through individual or small organizations doing overseas purchasing. The vast market of imported toothpastes has attracted some profiteers, whose dequalified or fake products appeared on the market as well as illegal misleading propaganda. These market disorders has not only broken the healthy and fair competitive order, but also damaged the benefits of legitimate practitioners and consumers.
Fake Sources of Products Damage the Benefits of Consumers
Imported toothpaste is large in both volume and number of types. According to customs statistics, in the past three years, both the transaction volume and transaction amount of imported toothpaste showed double-digit growth.In December 2015, a three-digit high speed growth appeared: the volume of imports during that month reached 1,614,788kg, with the year-on-year growth of 125.63 %, while the transaction amount reached $11,440,790, with the year-on-year growth of 133.19%. In 2016, imports of toothpaste still showed high-speed growth.In June 2016, e.g., the import volume of the month was 1,259,778 kg, with an year-on-year increase of 43.17%, and the transaction amount was $30,694,763, with an year-on-year increase of 70.50%. In 2017, the growth of imported toothpaste slowed slightly. The growth rate of import volume and transaction amount in March were 18.25% and 22.81% respectively. In terms of product types, more than 20 types of imported toothpastes from eight countries including Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, The United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and the United States, are being sold in JD Mall.
Numerous types of Imported toothpastes have become breeding ground for dequalified and fake products, which consumers can not distinguish. Take the most famous brand “MARVIS” known as"Hermes of toothpastes” for example, also a hot sale product on Taobao: e.g., a shop among top sales of MARVIS toothpaste on Taobao has 5056 recent completed orders. To prove the authenticity of their product, the shop provides a customs declaration form and a CIQ inspection sheet for imported goods. Tian Liming, Marketing Director of Hemaiheda Group, China's large-scale operator of imported daily chemicals, said that the domestic imported toothpaste market is full of "false imports", i.e. toothpastes produced by domestic small factories were exported and then re-imported through transit of custom, or directly labeled as imported goods. Without a complete traceability system, consumers simply can not tell between the authetic and the fake.
Xiang Jianqiang, vice chairman and secretary-general of Oral Care Industry Association, said that aside from the domestic brands, foreign enterprises which own mainstream toothpaste brands of world's highest market shares,such as Colgate and Crest of U.S., Sensodyne of U.K., Lion of Japan and LG Bamboo Salt of South Korea,have all built factories in China, and generally they do not need to import.The annual production of toothpaste of Colgate does not only meet the needs of domestic market, but also been exported to more than 30 countries and regions. In recent years, in order to meet the consumers’ pursuit of niche brands, some disqualified imported toothpaste produced by small factories without full production qualifications had come into China market. The local sales of these "niche" brands is quite plain,but they were marketed as niche imported high-end products in China. In fact, these "niche" products are risky in the production standards and safety of source, and China consumers are the ones who finally pay for these risks.
For "Disqualified import", "fake-import" of toothpastes, HEMAIHEDA called for the implementation of CFDA import registration system. According to their introduction, relying on CFDA’s import and export registration system of imported food and cosmetics, supervision and management on both importer and product can be achieved at the same time to ensure the quality of imported products, and testing standards for imported oral care proudcts can be simultaneously established. In addition, monitoring from the production and import side, the implementation of such system can improve the market access threshold, and finally keep the non-qualified or non-compliance products from entering China Market.
Regulatory Imbalances Harms Fair Competition
To meet increasing demand of consumers and face the challenge of large import volume of toothpaste to China market, China Oral Care Products Industry Associations said that quality of domestic toothpastes need to be improved and sub-functional products need to be constantly developed. Xiang Jianqiang introduced that at present China's oral care-related enterprises are carrying out “category-quality-brand” strategy as a guide to continuously improve manufacturing standard, focusing on promoting industrial automation and intelligence, product refinement and personalization.
Tian Liming also believes that "Marketing is just supplementary mean.Only excellent quality is the most solid factor for a long-live product." In fact, to ensure the quality, most of domestic toothpastes strictly comply with standards and regulations in China,while some imported toothpastes do not.Monitoring on such violations of law and regulations are not yet in place.
For example, functional claims such as "treatment of oral ulcers","improving gingivitis" etc. are often used to promote imported toothpastes. These propaganda often appear on major e-commerce websites as advertisement to introduce imported toothpaste.This behavior violated the relevant regulations of the Advertising Law of China: "Exception to medical, pharmaceutical and medical device advertisements, it is forbidden that any other advertisements involve treatment of diseases, or use words that easily make confusion with drugs and medical devices. "(Chapter II, Article 17).
In addition, the implementation of national standards and industry standards of the imported toothpaste need to be regulated. First, some toothpastes imported through major e-commerce platforms and oversea buyers do not meet China’s National standard of oral care products general label (GB29337-2012), which is a national mandatory standard with legal attributes. There are no corresponding Chinese charactors on the packaging of these products imported not through authorized agents, importers or distributors, which violates the standard clause of "For oral hygiene care products, except for registered trademarks, the language of label contents should be Chinese. Pinyin, minority languages, traditional characters or foreign languages used should have corresponding Chinese characters. ", let alone meeting other standards such as net content and composition.
In addition to national mandatory standards, some imported toothpaste did not meet two industry standards of toothpaste efficacy evaluation standards WS / T326-2010 or functional toothpaste standard QB / T2966-2014. Both industry standards require providing a set of proofs of relevant clinical trials when promoting specific efficacy of functional toothpastes. Although the above two standards are non-mandatory standards, they have been implemented by most of the domestic toothpastes. But most of the imported toothpastes have not implemented the two industry standards, and their behaviors have not been investigated by relevant departments.
For above issues, reporter called the State Administration for Industry and Commerce,and he was told that the specific responsible party for this issue is Department of Advertising Regulation. The reporter then called Department of Advertising Regulation, but their phone has been no answer.
As early as in September 2014, during a inspection tour of quality inspection work in Shenzhen, Premier Li Keqiang had required that the quality inspection departments should promote corporates to produce export and domestic sales products on the same production line with same standard, so that the domestic and export products can achieve the same quality standards. This policy,which is called "same line, same standard, same quality",will undoubtedly enhance the quality of supply, helping domestic consumers enjoy higher quality products.
While improving the quality of domestic products, the industry has also been looking forward to implementing similar policy on the imported products including toothpastes. It is hoped that the relevant supervision and management departments will improve market access barriers, and manage imported products with same quality standards, safety standards, laws, regulations, and traceability as domestic products. China Oral Care Industry Association vice chairman Xiang Jianqiang appealed that imported toothpastes and domestic toothpastes should race from the same starting line, and the supervision standard of packaging, product quality and advertising language of the two should be the same, instead of limiting the domestic toothpastes and giving a green light to imported ones.
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