South East Asia’s bird’s nest firms ready to flock to lucrative China market on trade mission

By Tingmin Koe contact

- Last updated on GMT

Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand are the top exporters of edible bird's nest. © Getty Images
Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand are the top exporters of edible bird's nest. © Getty Images

Related tags: bird's nest, China, Trade

South East Asia’s bird’s nest firms are ramping up their efforts to capture the fast-growing Chinese market.

Priced for its skin beauty effect, China’s bird’s nest industry had seen “speedy growth”​ in the past five years, with 105.2 tonnes of dried bird’s nest imported last year, which was about three times more than 2016.

The top three importers were Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, according to the latest statistics published by China Chamber of Commerce of Medicines and Health Products Importers and Exporters (CCCMPHIE) in August this year.

At present, only bird’s nest products from the three aforementioned countries and Singapore can be legally exported into China.

Bird’s nest manufacturing firms from these countries must also be granted the Certification and Accreditation Administration of People’s Republic of China (CNCA), in which their manufacturing plants need to be audited and approved, before they can export to China.  

Waiting for a chance

Cambodia is one example which has yet to establish an official bird’s nest export relationship with China. However, some Cambodian firms are preparing to make the road into the lucrative Chinese market.

One example is Best Life Product Co Ltd, which sells bird’s nest drink and dried bird’s nest.

It will be attending the forthcoming China International Import Expo (CIIE), a high-level exhibition is endorsed by China president Xi Jinping, who has said that China would increase its level of openness to foreign-produced goods​.

Director Meav Soktry told NutraIngredients-Asia ​that the firm saw the participation in CIIE as a way to prepare itself to enter the China market.

“We have to be well prepared to enter the products to China, so that at least we know what they like and what they want.

 “I decided to join the CIIE expo again to keep relation with the interested buyers and learn more about the other opportunities for cooperation with Chinese investors.

Besides building awareness about its products, Soktry added that the firm was preparing to meet the requirements of the Chinese government, especially CNCA.

The company sources its bird’s nest locally, from the country’s seaside provinces, and already exports  to Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, and Taiwan.

According to Cambodia’s local media Phnom Penh Post​, the country’s minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, Veng Sakhon said in May this year that the ministry would make a formal request to export the country’s product into China.

A lucky chance

Meanwhile, Malaysia’s bird’s nest cooperative Ebn Kowalit is attending the expo for the first time. Chairman Datuk Ng Siew Lai said that the firm was lucky to have been granted a spot.

It started to export bird’s nest in September last year after obtaining the CNCA.

It is currently exporting about 100kg to 200kg of cleaned dried bird’s nest into China each month, and hopes to grow the volume to 300kg.

It also sell its products to Australia and Japan.

Bird’s nest traceability                                          

Food traceability is a key concern in China, and this applies to edible bird’s nest as well. 

The China Academy of Inspection and Quarantine (CAIQ) has set up the Chinese Bird Nest Traceability Management Service Platform to provide traceability management services for legally imported bird’s nest.

Ng told us that each piece of dried bird’s nest exported to China would be pasted with a sticker that has a QR code printed on it.

By scanning the QR code, consumers can find out information such as the country of origins of the product.

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