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:

http://www.novagraaf.com/en/news?newspath=/NewsItems/en/wineries-face-new-norm-china

http://www.decanterchina.com/en/?article=1017

http://www.ilfattoalimentare.it/vini-in-cina-mercato.html

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

http://www.amazon.it/Il-vino-Cina-conference-Bilingual-ebook/dp/B00JUL31OM

Written Q&A to EU Commission – Organic labeling and counterfeiting

Question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 130
Nicola Caputo (S&D)

3rd September 2014

Subject:  Labelling of organic foods and counterfeit products

As demand for organic and protected geographical indication (PGI) products rises dramatically, the quantity of fraudulent products on the market is rising with it: hundreds of products are being passed off as organic foods subject to rigorous checks but have in fact been falsely labelled and produced with complete disregard for the rules, using harmful pesticides, non-comestible liquids or even substances intended for use in animal feed.

1. How does the Commission intend to boost organic food production in an effort to satisfy demand without sacrificing quality?

2. In the context of the EU proposal on the labelling of organic products, what monitoring systems could be used to clamp down on counterfeit foods?

3. How does the Commission plan to tackle the increasing use of e-commerce to export ‘fake organic’ products quickly and on a huge scale, and to import counterfeit products?

Answer given by Mr Cioloş on behalf of the Commission – 20th October 2014

1. The Common agricultural policy (CAP) includes measures to support organic production. From 2015, Member States will have to use 30% of direct payments to finance payments to farmers for sustainable agricultural practices that are beneficial for climate and environment. The practices of an organic farmer will be considered per se as complying with these so-called greening payments. Rural development framework includes opportunities to support increase of organic production, as a specific measure provides for Member States to support farmers converting to, or maintaining, organic production practices. The School Fruit and Vegetables Scheme (SFVS) and the School Milk Scheme (SMS) present opportunities for organic farmers.

Research and innovation has a role to play in development of EU organics, and to this end the action plan for the future of Organic Production in the European Union(1) foresees actions under Horizon 2020 to support research and innovation. The European Innovation Partnership for agriculture will also foster the exchange of innovative methods and research results and make the link between science and practice.

2. The proposal allocates a budget for technical assistance measures by the Commission so as to implement a system of electronic certification, both for products imported and for EU operators. This will make forgery and fraud, currently found in paper documents, more difficult and will enhance traceability and control.

3. As part of its Action Plan1 the Commission will assist Member States in developing and implementing an organic fraud prevention policy, through targeted workshops to share good practices and the development of compendia/casebook of cases.

(1) COM(2014)179 final ; http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/organic/documents/eu-policy/european-action-plan/act_en.pdf

(Source: European Parliament website)