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Exporters enter domestic market, raise China's food quality

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After exporting all its products to the Japanese market for eight years, Genseida Food Co Ltd started to sell domestically this year.

After exporting all its products to the Japanese market for eight years, Genseida Food Co Ltd started to sell domestically this year.

Genseida is based in Anqiu, a county-level city in Weifang in East China's Shandong province. The company accounts for 20 percent of Japan's ginger trade and about 33 percent of its peeled garlic.

Genseida launched its first product on the Chinese market in May - a type of fermented garlic flavored with chocolate. The company also opened an online store on Taobao, China's leading online shopping platform.

Although the company's Taobao store has not yet recorded its sales, Wang Longhuang, who is in charge of the fermented garlic business, said he was confident of the company's performance in the Chinese market as the products were up to Japanese standards.

"People are paying more attention to the food quality," said Wang.

Other Shandong-based agricultural exporters, including Longda Food Group and Taixiang Food Group, are also exploring the domestic market.

Yu Jianyang, general manager of Taixiang, said the export-certificate that allows the company to export products to developed countries gave it an advantage over domestic competitors.

"We make all of our products according to the world's strictest standards, both the products sold to the overseas market and those sold in the domestic market," said Yu.

Taixiang figures showed the company sold more than 200 food items, including aquatic, meat and vegetable products, to more than 30 nations and regions, including Japan, South Korea, the United States and Russia.

Government efforts

Shandong government is building demonstration areas across the province to help agricultural exporters enter the domestic market, in a bid to elevate the nation's overall food quality.

Shandong is one of China's most developed agricultural regions and sold $15.21 billion worth of agricultural products to overseas markets last year.

This accounted for 22.7 percent of the country's total agricultural exports, according to statistics from Shandong's commerce department. The province ranked first in the country for agricultural exports for 15 consecutive years.

Following efforts to control food quality, 99.95 percent of agricultural products Shandong exported last year met standards required by the destination countries.

To date, the province has built 78 demonstration areas to promote the international standards of producing agricultural products.

The demonstration areas ensure products meet export standards by enforcing measures including enhanced cooperation among government departments, strict controls on pesticides and stringent production standards.

In Anqiu, a research center was established to regulate standards of agricultural products.

To date, the center has formulated comprehensive standards for producing six kinds of agricultural products including ginger, chicken and green onion, as well as 200 standards for production techniques.

"All of the six standards conform to Japanese standards," said Li Jianfang, director of Anqiu Agricultural Product Safety Office.

Li said Japan uses the Positive List System for Agricultural Chemical Residues in Foods, which imposes strict requirements on the maximum limits for agricultural chemicals in foods.

"We will update our standards as long as Japan changes the positive list," said Li.

Fertilizer retailers in Anqiu can only sell products that have code labels.

"If an accident happens, the fertilizer product will be traced to the producer through the code label," said Han Guoliang, who is in charge of a fertilizer store in Shidui town in Anqiu.

Farmers in Anqiu are required to put Quick Response code labels on products to ensure that each individual packet can be traced to the farmer that produced it.

Quality upgrading

Li said local efforts to produce quality agricultural goods for export elevated the overall quality of the region's agricultural products.

Anqiu produces 4 million tons of agricultural products every year, of which 2.5 million tons are sold to overseas markets.

Taixiang Group spent 50 million yuan ($8.07 million) building state-of-theart test equipment that can run about 500 tests for things such as chemical residues and additives.

According to the Plans on Building a Demonstration Province for Agricultural Export, Shandong will apply international standards to the agricultural sectors of aquatic products, meat products, vegetable, fruits, peanuts and edible oils by 2017.

Technique standards will cover production, processing, package, storage, transportation and consumption.

The province aims to develop 80 percent of its county-level cities into demonstration areas for quality agricultural products by 2017.