13 Dec 2013

Chinese formula market set for major consolidation

1:05 pm on 13 December 2013

The process of getting registered with Chinese authorities has begun for New Zealand infant formula manufacturers.

And the Ministry for Primary Industries is advising companies they should take notice of the Chinese Government's public statements that it intends to reduce the number of operators in the market.

As of 1 May 2014 all manufacturers of infant formula will have to be registered with Chinese authorities.

Lincoln University professor of agribusiness Keith Woodford says this registration process will spell the beginning of the end for some New Zealand companies.

He says the Chinese authorities are very serious about reducing the number of players in the infant formula market.

He says they want to consolidate from about 120 players to six large companies which they call 'national champions'.

"The idea we in New Zealand can be marketing 30, 40 brands in China is just not a reality."

He says the big new Zealand companies with sufficient resources can still compete.

"These small companies that have never been able to sell anything in New Zealand and are just aimed at the Chinese market they've got no future."

Professor Woodford says he expects the number of infant formula brands being exported to China will be dramatically reduced perhaps to five or six.