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 24/2015

This week on the EU RASFF (Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed) we can find the following notifications:

1. Alerts followed by a recall from consumers:

– Allergens: traces of gluten (presence) in variety of chocolate flavoured brownie cake bars from the United Kingdom, following company’s own check. Notified by United Kingdom, distributed also to Ireland;

– Foreign bodies: plastic fragments in milk chocolate bar with whole hazelnuts from Poland, following a consumer complaint. Notified by Germany;

– Heavy metals: mercury (1.55 mg/kg – ppm) in chilled vacuum packed swordfish fillets (Xiphias gladius) from Spain, following an official control on the market. Notified by Italy, distributed also to Austria;

– Mycotoxins: fumonisins (6738.8; 10500 µg/kg – ppb) in corn meal from Portugal, following an official control on the market. Notified by Luxembourg;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Salmonella spp. (presence/25g) in food for enteral use for children from the Netherlands, following an official control on the market. Notified by Germany;

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

– Foreign bodies: glass fragments in wine from South Africa, following company’s own check. Notified by Ireland;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Campylobacter jejuni (11 positive samples: 800, 100,400, 200, 300, 3100, 9200, 400, 700, 600, 300 CFU/g) in fresh chicken from the Netherlands, following an official control on the market. Notified by Denmark, distributed also to Germany.

3. Alerts followed by a withdrawal from the market/from recipients:

– Composition: unauthorised substances progesterone (2.56 mg/kg – ppm) and androstenedione (3.02 mg/kg – ppm) in food supplement from India, via Latvia, following an official control on the market. Notified by Czech Republic;

– Composition: high content of iodine (2423 mg/kg – ppm) in dried seaweed from Japan, following an official control on the market. Notified by Germany, distributed also to Netherlands and United Kingdom;

– Industrial contaminants: benzo(a)pyrene (2.7 µg/kg – ppb) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH4 sum: 15.8 µg/kg – ppb) in chilled bacon from Latvia, following an official control on the market. Notified by Estonia;

– Mycotoxins: ochratoxin A (19.3 µg/kg – ppb) in raisins from Turkey, packaged in Poland, following an official control on the market. Notified by Poland, distributed also to United Kingdom;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Listeria monocytogenes (<10 CFU/g) in raw milk cheese from France, following company’s own check. Notified by France, distributed also to Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands and United Kingdom;

4. Seizures:

In Italy, following an official control on the market, we had a seizure for E 450 – diphosphate (2.37 g/kg) unauthorised in chilled vacuum packed yellow fin tuna from Spain.

5. Border rejections:

  • absence of health certificate(s) for curry leaves from India
  • aflatoxins (B1 = 11.6; Tot. = 13.1 µg/kg – ppb) in shelled peanuts, in blanched peanuts (B1 = 3.0 µg/kg – ppb), in blanched groundnut kernels (B1 = 4.5 µg/kg – ppb) and in groundnuts (Tot. = 8.7 µg/kg – ppb) from China
  • aflatoxins (B1 = 13.6; Tot. = 14.4 µg/kg – ppb) in chili powder from India
  • aflatoxins (B1 = 18.1; Tot. = 18.9 µg/kg – ppb) in shelled bitter almonds from Morocco
  • aflatoxins (B1 = 19; Tot. = 24 µg/kg – ppb) in shelled almonds from Australia
  • aflatoxins (B1 = 22.7; Tot. = 24.3 µg/kg – ppb) in pistachios in shell from the United States
  • aflatoxins (B1 = 4.6 µg/kg – ppb) in groundnuts from Brazil
  • aflatoxins (Tot. = 25 µg/kg – ppb) in shelled hazelnut from Turkey
  • chlorpyrifos (0.41 mg/kg – ppm) and dimethoate (1.9 mg/kg – ppm) and unauthorised substances profenofos (0.08 mg/kg – ppm) and dichlorvos (4.6 mg/kg – ppm) in dried beans from Nigeria
  • deoxynivalenol (DON) (1240 µg/kg – ppb) in popcorn from Bosnia and Herzegovina and in popcorn (2308 µg/kg – ppb) from Serbia
  • dried vegetables from China infested with moulds and with insects
  • fenamiphos (0.096 mg/kg – ppm) in fresh pepper from Turkey
  • poor hygienic state of red peppers from Tunisia
  • poor temperature control (> 12.2 °C) of chilled seabass (Dicentrarchus spp) and chilled tuna (Thunnus spp) from Mauritania
  • Salmonella spp. (presence /25g) in betel leaves from India
  • Salmonella Stanley and acephate (0.035 mg/kg – ppm) in frozen okra from Vietnam
  • too high content of colour E 102 – tartrazine, of colour E 122 – azorubine, of colour E 129 – Allura Red AC and of colour E 133 – Brilliant Blue FCF (combined level of dyes > 300 mg/kg – ppm) in marshmallows from China
  • unauthorised novel food ingredient Siraitia Grosvenorii in food supplement from the United States

(Source: EU RASFF Portal)