China looking to limit number of infant formula brands on sale

China looking to limit number of infant formula brands on sale

China is looking to place limits on the amount of products infant formula companies can sell in the country.

Two options are set out under regulations drafted by Beijing. Under the first, companies would be limited to selling a maximum of 15 brands.

The second option means manufacturers would have to prove infant formula made for a specific age group had "significant differences" with other lines and contained at least six different ingredients.

The legislation, which is open for public comment until 1 October, also states manufacturers will have to re-register their infant formula recipes with the China Food and Drug Administration.

Torsten Stocker, a partner at AT Kearney, said the proposed measures were part of a series of moves recently introduced in China to "create a sector with fewer, stronger players that provide safe choices to consumers, while at the same time boosting breastfeeding rates".

Stocker said China last year started to limit the number of infant formula brands that could enter the market and stopped renewing licences for some smaller, domestic manufacturers. More recently, Beijing drafted amendments to advertising laws that ban claims to the effect infant formula can replace breastfeeding.

"Now it is limiting the number of products, and requiring that they be distinct in terms of ingredients and benefits - although what that means may be open to interpretation - creating more transparency for consumers and limiting how brands can compete, especially those that don't have any real differentiation," Stocker said.