July 3, 2018

China – Opening the Market by Reducing Animal Testing


For a long time selling cosmetics onto the gigantic Chinese market, which grew from £2.2 Billion in 2016 to £2.4 Billion in 2017, has been a difficult if not impossible task.
While complex regulation, a questionable corruption record and a significant language barrier are enough to trouble even seasoned exporters these issues are not unique to China and are overcome by many EU and US brands in countries around the world including Russia and Brazil.
Where China is almost unique is the current mandatory animal testing laws which govern imported cosmetic products. This testing has resulted in many brands who carry cruelty free status or have internal policy against animal testing pulling out of the Chinese market all together. There is a a currently gray area between testing carried out on products in China which are also sold in the EU (covered by the animal testing ban). While it is not recommended to sell the same product in China as in the EU this is mainly due to a public perception issue. This issue is further perpetuated by PETA who have, in the past, accused companies selling in China of breaking the EU laws on animal testing.
The outcome of the animal testing requirements was a significant lack of non-Chinese products entering the Chinese market. No doubt this was the intention of the Chinese government to protect indigenous brands but this has not proved to be popular as consumers have begun to demand cruelty free products.

In a move which may signal a significant shift in general government policy Cruelty Free International have announced a new pilot scheme that could pave the way for Leaping Bunny certified companies to sell their products in China.
With partnerships in China Cruelty Free International are facilitating non-native cosmetics brands manufacture products in China and avoid any animal testing.

Michelle Thew, CEO of Cruelty Free International, said: “We know there is demand from consumers in China for cruelty free cosmetics and incentive for companies to operate in the Chinese market. Having worked intensely with our partners in China, we are delighted to be able to announce this ground-breaking project. This is a great opportunity for us to gauge the level of demand from international brands to register their interest in entering the market in China. This is a really exciting scheme that could benefit animals, consumers and cruelty free companies alike.”

The general hope is that this is a significant move that, in time, will allow China to move to a non-mandatory animal testing regime and eventually a ban.