China and wine: the new norm on terminology translation of imported wine terms

I receive and gladly publish an extremely interesting article by Mariagrazia Semprebon – AgriLegal Consulting. Thanks Mariagrazia!

Many wine companies look eagerly forward to the Chinese market.

By now it is clear that there are some difficulties to penetrate the Chinese wine market and also some critical issues, but with ta good partner and some important preventive measures, it is possible to obtain great satisfactions.

One of the obvious trouble for the exporter is the language, the commercial communication barrier, that risks to cause mischievous misunderstanding.

First of all, the exporter company must translate his commercial name in Chinese characters, otherwise the importer or the Chinese consumer would transliterate the name of the brand in his place (and with little if no care at all).

In addition, it is important to match the brand with Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), after ensuring the legitimacy of the indication according to Chinese laws.

It is also important:

– to clearly identify which is which among the product brand, its origin and the designation of origin – to translate it in order to made it clear to Chinese consumers where the product comes from.

The strength of a collective brand is in fact more incisive when consistently translated in the language of a country with a potential and strong developing market.

To prevent confusion and mistakes and to promote the Chinese wine market advancement, the Chinese government has drafted a standard document which includes many Italian and foreign wine terms translated in Chinese, and also some import regulations.

The Chinese Chamber of Commerce, the Agricultural Institute and its Wine Academy have completed an official guide on the matter.

The “Norm of Terminology Translation of Imported Wines”, 进口葡萄酒相关术语翻译规范, was enacted by the Chinese Ministry of Internal Trade and came into force on 1st September 2015.

It is applicable to all wine businesses which want to export in China.

This “Norm” is the first of its kind in the Chinese wine market, before there were only translation guidelines granted from wine commercial authorities.

The translated terms mainly concern wine grapes types, the most important wine regions and the biggest wine companies of the eleven examined producing countries.

It is structured as a table, according to the English alphabetic order and it is divided into four parts:

– the first chapter concerns norms;

– the second chapter includes label terminology;

– the third chapter involves the fundamental global wine grapes varieties (excluding China), with the type name, the origin country and the grapes color;

– the fourth and last chapter includes the most important wine region and wine cellars, with the name of the main producers.

This is not a binding transliteration, the operator is still free to choose his favorite translation, but it is clear that the standard, once adopted and legitimated, will be asserted by the Chinese government.

It is presumable that this standard translation will spread soon across the wine sector and, consequently, it will be convenient to comply with it to communicate more incisively.

Another fact must be bear in mind, and is that the Chinese names suggested by the guide are not made up by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, they were already present on the Chinese market from long time, and have been gathered in the “Norm”.

After the implementation of the “Norm of Terminology Translation of Imported Wines”, the Chinese names included in the list will be, probably, adopted by distributors, importers and also from media.

The “Norm of Terminology Translation of Imported Wines” is a perfect instrument for the wine maker, that still does not have registered his brand in China, to verify if his brand transliteration correspond to the one proposed by the guide and to orient himself into the Chinese market.

To the producers who have a Chinese registered brand it is possible to adjust it according to the new norm, or also to try to integrate it into this new norm, when revised.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce has in fact declared that it will be possible to revise the guide after September 2018 (the Chinese Ministry of Commerce regulation provides in fact that a standard can be modified after three years from its publication to follow market innovations and new technologies).

In the prospect of the seen revision wine cellars, which have a registered brand in China and want to put into the norm of terminology translation (as Zenato has already done), could ask for the integration of their name in the guide.

There are some other advices for wine makers who intend to enter the Chinese market, once transliterated the name of their brands and the product information according to the norm, it is important to register the brand also in China.

Before to do it, it is necessary to control if the brand is already registered or filed in China by somebody else.

If so, wine cellar can claim its brand before a Chinese court but it is an expensive way, it could be better even to consider to change the brand name to some extension for the Chinese market.

What is absolutely to avoid is to register or simply introduce in China a brand without a comprehensive research on the potential prior use of the same brand in the Chinese market, because it can expose the producer to the risk of legal challenges in China.

Finally, the brand registration should not be limited to continental China, but it should include also Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao.

In the end, to commerce in the Chinese market, it is better not only to take into consideration big cities as Bejing or Shangai, but also think about other areas, for example the so-called “food capital” of China: Guangzhou.

Click here for the Norm.

Linked below are some related articles:

A book (available on Amazon) on a conference about wine and China held in 2014 in Montepulciano:

Food recalls in EU – Week 8/2016

Last week on EU RASFF (Rapid Alert System for food and feed) we can find the following relevant notifications:

1. Alerts followed by a recall from consumers:

  • Listeria monocytogenes (presence CFU/g) in organic falafel nuggets from the Netherlands, following an official control on the market. Notified by Netherlands, distributed also to Belgium, France, Ireland, Spain and United Kingdom;
  • Mercury (1.18 mg/kg – ppm) in frozen blue shark slices (Prionace glauca) from Spain, following company’s own check. Notified by Italy;
  • Salmonella (presence/25g) in raw milk brie cheese from France, following company’s own check. Notified by France, distributed also to Austria, Czech Republic, Germany and Spain;
  • Salmonella Kentucky (present) in dried parsley from Egypt, following an official control on the market. Notified by Germany, distributed also to Belgium, Finland, France and Netherlands;
  • Traces of milk (casein 0.03 mg/item) in frozen fish gratin from Sweden, with raw material from Denmark, following company’s own check. Notified by Sweden, distributed also to Norway:
  • Undeclared milk ingredient in swiss rolls from Spain, following an official control on the market. Notified by United Kingdom, distributed also to Italy and Portugal;
  • Undeclared mustard and celery in spice mix from Sweden, following company’s own check. Notified by Sweden, distributed also to Finland, Norway and Denmark.

2. Information for attention/for follow up followed by a recall from consumers:

3. Alerts followed by a withdrawal from the market:

  • Listeria monocytogenes (570 CFU/g) in frozen smoked trout from Turkey, via Bulgaria, following an official control on the market. Notified by Netherlands;
  • Mercury (1.845 mg/kg – ppm) in frozen swordfish loins from Vietnam, via Belgium, following an official control on the market. Notified by Czech Republic, distributed also to Denmark, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia;
  • Plastic fragments in candy bars from the Netherlands, following company’s own check. Notified by Netherlands, distributed also to (see links embedded to reach some of the press release-public warning): Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Faeroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Gibraltar, GreeceHong Kong, Hungary,  Iceland, India, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Monaco, Morocco, Nepal, New Caledonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United KingdomWest Bank and Gaza Strip;
  • Unauthorised substance yohimbine in and insufficient labelling of food supplement from the United States, via Sweden, following an official control on the market. Notified by Norway;
  • Unauthorised substance yohimbine in food supplement from the United States, following an official control on the market. Notified by Norway, distributed also to Sweden.

4. Seizures:

5. Border rejections:

Country of notification Countries concerned Subject Action Taken
Italy Italy, United States (O) aflatoxins (B1 = 10.4; Tot. = 11.6 µg/kg – ppb) in shelled almonds from the United States re-dispatch
Ireland Ireland, Pakistan (O), United Kingdom aflatoxins (B1 = 15.7; Tot. = 16.4 µg/kg – ppb) in spice mix from Pakistan official detention
Italy China (O), Italy aflatoxins (B1 = 5.3; Tot. = 6.5 µg/kg – ppb) in shelled peanuts from China  
Italy Egypt (O), Italy aflatoxins (B1 = 92; Tot. = 107 / B1 = 5.1; Tot. = 5.9 µg/kg – ppb) in groundnuts from Egypt placed under customs seals
Germany Germany, Turkey (O) aflatoxins (Tot. = 51.3 µg/kg – ppb) in roasted pistachios and almonds from Turkey import not authorised
Belgium Belgium, Gambia (O) benzo(a)pyrene (7 µg/kg – ppb) in smoked sardinella (Sardinella spp.) from the Gambia import not authorised
Italy India (O), Italy cadmium (2.6 mg/kg – ppm) in frozen squid chunks from India import not authorised
United Kingdom South Korea (O), United Kingdom cadmium (2.9 mg/kg – ppm) in frozen squid (Nototodarus spp.) from South Korea import not authorised
United Kingdom Laos (O), United Kingdom, Vietnam high count of Escherichia coli (1000 CFU/g) in praew leaves (Vietnamese coriander – Polygonum odoratum) from Laos, via Vietnam destruction
Italy Italy, Thailand (O) mercury (0.11 mg/kg – ppm) in pet food from Thailand import not authorised
Italy Commission Services, Italy, Portugal, Vietnam (O) prohibited substance nitrofuran (metabolite) nitrofurazone (SEM) (1.43 µg/kg – ppb) in frozen pangasius fillets from Vietnam import not authorised
Greece Greece, India (O) Salmonella (in 1 out of 5 samples /25g) in hulled sesame seeds from India import not authorised
United Kingdom Laos (O), United Kingdom, Vietnam Salmonella (in 4 out of 5 samples /25g) and high count of Escherichia coli (620 CFU/g) in frozen perilla (Perilla frutescens) from Laos, via Vietnam destruction
Italy Italy, Vietnam (O) too high level of overall migration (141 mg/kg – ppm) from nitrile gloves (food contact materials) from Vietnam re-dispatch
Poland Japan (O), Poland unauthorised colour Rose Bengal in marinated bamboo shoots from Japan destruction
United Kingdom Thailand (O), United Kingdom unauthorised substance carbofuran (0.01 mg/kg – ppm) in aubergines from Thailand destruction
Italy India (O), Italy unauthorised substance propargite (0.29 mg/kg – ppm) in green tea from India placed under customs seals

(Source: RASFF Portal)