Chinese customs rejects thousands of wines due to ‘inadequate’ labels


Customs officials have either destroyed or turned back thousands of foreign wines so far in 2016, mainly because of poor labelling, new figures show.

Image: Bordeaux fine wine, credit Decanter
Image: Bordeaux fine wine, credit Decanter

Almost half of the wines rejected by Chinese customs were due to poor labelling, said officials.

It suggests that border police have switched their focus from the contents of the wine to the packaging.

The exact number of wines rejected in the first six months of 2016 was not released, but customs rejected 82 batches (151 tonnes) of imported wines from 11 countries.

Thirty five batches were due to failure to comply with Chinese customs’ labelling regulations, according to China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ).

The number has increased significantly compared to the first half of 2015, when 49 batches were rejected. The top three reasons for rejection are poor labelling, poor packaging (9 batches) and excessive iron (8 batches).

Imported wines need to carry a Chinese back label when entering China, according to AQSIQ. The label must indicate the following information:

·Product name
·Production country
·Raw materials and subsidiary materials
·Type of product
·Bottling dates
·Name, address and contact details of distributor
·Alcohol level
·Net volume
·Storage instruction
·Warning: Drinking wine is harmful for your health

Failure to meet the quarantine standards for sorbic acid (less than 200mg/L) was the biggest reason for customs rejecting wine in 2015.

During the first half of 2016, though, only two batches of imported wines were rejected due to containing excessive sorbic acid.

More wines from France (37 batches) and Spain (23 batches) were rejected by the quarantine authority than other countries (see graph).

Image: wines rejected by Chinese customs during Jan to Jun 2016
Image: Wines rejected by Chinese customs during Jan to Jun 2016 - Where are they from?

Spain ranks the fourth with 16% of the total volume.

During January to June of 2016, 300m litres of wines were imported into China.

Related article:

Top 6 reasons for rejection:

Poor labelling – 35 batches
Poor packaging – 9 batches
Excessive iron – 8 batches
Failed to reach national standards for sugar-free dry extract – 5 batches
Excessive sorbic acid – 4 batches

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