China's increasingly savvy chocolate consumers will be better equipped to choose higher-quality chocolate if new regulations are properly enforced.
China's Ministry of Commerce has said that the fat content in chocolate must be made up of at least 95 per cent cocoa butter. Any products containing more than five per cent cocoa butter replacement can no longer be labelled as chocolate. Under the new regulation, to be policed by the Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, manufacturers must specify the proportion and type of cocoa substitute used. The law could significantly shake up the domestic confectionery sector. Only about a quarter of chocolate products on the market are made with pure cocoa butter, according to Chen Guoxing of the confectionery committee of China's Food Industry Association. Others estimate that 90 per cent of Chinese chocolate manufacturers rely on cocoa-butter substitutes, due to the significant price difference — a tonne of cocoa costs around $3,859, while cocoa substitutes range from $771-$1,929.
China's confectionery industry is already moving towards higher-quality products, independent of regulation. The world's biggest chocolate maker, Barry Callebaut, says the Chinese market has been buying increasing amounts of higher-quality product for some time. Shanghai-based confectionery firm Jinsihou says all of its new products are made with pure cocoa butter.
Taihu Rice Park (Wuxi, Jiangsu) and the Shanghai Academy of Agricultural Sciences are jointly developing a strain of high-calcium rice. This rice is reported to have been harvested and a batch of samples has been approved by the Shanghai Food Research Institute, which confirms the claim of the developers that the new strain contains 80 per cent more calcium than regular rice. Taihu expects to be able to produce approximately 16 tonnes of the rice this year.