About 20 billion yuan ($3.13 billion) worth of high-quality fresh food of the same standard as that shipped to Hong Kong from the Chinese mainland will be supplied to the mainland markets in 2016 to diversify customers' choices while boosting domestic consumption, a trade promotion agency said Wednesday.
The International Brand Management Center (IBMC), which is under the China Association of International Trade, said Wednesday that about 600,000 consumers will initially enjoy these items in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou in South China's Guangdong Province and cities in East China's Yangtze River Delta and South China's Pearl River Delta.
Mainland suppliers will guarantee the supply to Hong Kong first, the IBMC said. The supply to the mainland market will come from their existing surplus capacity.
Xu Jing, director of the IBMC, said Wednesday at an industry meeting in Beijing that suppliers are required to comply with the Hong Kong standards as well as to set the same prices in both markets. "We've tried to copy the regulatory system for food shipped to Hong Kong and ensure the same supervision in the mainland markets," Xu said.
The sample test of the fresh food sent to Hong Kong has reached a 99.999 percent pass rate, which was achieved under the strict regulatory system for food supplied to Hong Kong, according to the IBMC.
"If the standard of food sent to Hong Kong is higher than that of the mainland market, we should adopt it to secure food quality to benefit our consumers," Zhao Jingqiao, an expert specializing in the catering industry with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
Zhao suggested unifying the food regulatory standards, supervision models and testing technology in the domestic market aimed at ensuring food safety in China.
Many challenges will arise during this process, Xu stressed, such as how food enterprises can guarantee the product quality and how the regulations can be enforced with the same intensity as in Hong Kong.
Xu noted that the regulation process should be open and transparent.
According to the IBMC, about 50 billion yuan worth of fresh food with the same standard as that sent to Hong Kong is expected to be supplied in the mainland market in 2017.