Food products are the third most valuable commodity group traded internationally.
Year on year, the food and beverage shipping industry continues to grow. With this in mind, markets have been adapting to increasing consumer demands. As a result, food transportation has seen increasingly complex supply chains, varying business models, and the need for increased specialisation.
To help make your logistics operations as efficient as possible, our friends at WTA Group have developed this helpful guide to breakdown the 5 things you need to know before considering importing or exporting food products.
WTA are global freight experts with centuries of experience in freight management and have a deep well of knowledge about all things shipping.
It is crucial to have a full understanding of the requirements of the country you plan to export or import food and beverage products. Exclusive trade agreements and various laws could potentially impact the transportation of food and beverage goods, and may also aid the lowering of tariffs. If you are looking to import food and beverage products, it is also key to understand whether you would be required to pay an import duty, which is typical for most processed food products. Local sales taxes may also apply to goods if food is being used for retail sale.
Exporters must confirm the eligibility of their product to enter a country before engaging in commercial activities or investing in a business opportunity. All imported foodstuffs and beverages may be subject to approval before export or inspection at the border by a country’s border and biosecurity agencies. For this reason, it is critical that organisations obtain professional advice from an importer or regulatory affairs agent.
Likewise, some countries may have unique bilateral quarantine protocols that are required for trade in animal or plant-based products. For most countries, a protocol is not necessary for preserved or processed fruit; frozen, preserved or processed vegetables or processed foods not containing meat. However, it is essential to check the guidelines of the country you are looking to import.
All foreign food distributors and producers that import food products are typically required to register with the quarantine and inspection departments of the receiving country. Often, importers must also record the foods imported and distributed, keeping these records for at least two years. For those ingredients or components not registered in the country of import, it may also be required that the ingredients are registered as new-to-country components.
Manufacturers of dairy products, meat, seafood and horticulture will most likely require pre-approval before export. Exporters and the consignees of various food categories may also need to file a prior notice to ensure their shipments are released at customs.
Countries enforce many strict requirements on imported food and beverage products. To have a smooth-sailing shipping process, it is crucial that all prior requirements are met, including all business and product registrations.
Most countries require that all imported pre-packaged food must be labelled in prominent the language of that country. Some countries require that English and other foreign languages are also to be used, as a way of differentiating an imported product from local produce.
Each country has individual requirements of labelling in terms of highlighting ingredients used and the nutritional information of a product.
Some of the key information that may be needed on a product label includes:
• the standard name of foodstuffs
• list of ingredients
• quantitative labelling of ingredients (percentage of the ingredient)
• net weight and configuration
• name, address and contact info of manufacturer and local agent or distributor
• production date, use-by date in YY/MM/DD format and guidance for storing
• generic name of the food additives as used in the national standard
• quality grade
• food production license number
• code of the product standard
• special contents if there are any (e.g. irradiated food, genetically modified, nutrition list for baby food or diet food).
Depending on a country’s requirements and guidelines, certain types of ambient food products may be sold directly duty-free to end consumers through cross-border e-commerce. Additionally, for food-based products, distribution channels can be incredibly complicated. Exports might be handled through several intermediaries including import agents and distributors, wholesalers and sub-distributors.
As determined by the guidelines of a country, it may be the case that only licensed importers can handle import procedures and have the right to import food products. Specific licences may also be required by any company importing wine, dairy products, meat, seafood and fruit.
For organisations looking to import or export food and beverage products globally, you should gain a firm understanding on the regulations that may not only be imposed on your product but also the distribution standards of each country. This could also include components of food handling and product storage.