Many U.S. organic products manufacturers will never sell their products in China. Oftentimes, the reasons I hear for this are that the country has “too many food and farming scandals”, “questionable business practices”, or “untrustworthy counterparts that make partnerships difficult”. I believe these concerns all stem from the same root problem; put simply, China has a really bad rep in our industry.
In 2014, I spent a good portion of the year traveling to different cities in China to learn about the organic industry. I visited Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 cities (many of which most people have never heard of), and I met with government officials, farmers, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers across the supply chain.
I’m summarizing here, but the biggest takeaway from my trip was that it doesn’t matter what country a product is from, it matters WHO makes it. Yes, there are way too many manufacturer scandals in China, and I’ve seen fake (and misbranded) food and vitamin products firsthand. However, there’s a significant amount of progress being made in the organic industry, and generalizing China and Chinese companies is a mistake. We should all take the time to understand the relevant laws, different markets, and potential partnerships before making decisions for our brands as it relates to China. There are a million laws (at least it feels like it) for imported organic products, so get started there first…
For cocokind, the decision is clear and has nothing to do with my view on China’s “bad rep”.
In Mainland China, imported cosmetics (including skincare) are required by law to be animal tested.
That’s a problem, as cocokind is a cruelty-free skincare company. This company policy is enforced throughout our entire supply chain – from our individual suppliers down to every one of our retailers. No part of cocokind’s supply chain has ever or will ever test on animals. This has been our policy since Day 1, and as such, we will not sell to China.
Over the past year, we’ve had many offers to sell our products to Chinese retailers. While almost all of these offers have come from outstanding companies made of great values and people, we are going to stand by our decision as long as this law persists.
No sale is worth compromising our most basic cruelty-free principle. Period.
Will this ever change? Actually, China has made progress in its animal testing requirements in recent years. In June 2014, China lifted its animal testing requirement for domestically produced skincare. We’re hopeful that this exemption will be extended to international manufacturers in the near future. At that point, cocokind will reconsider our distribution choices in China.
I know plenty of ethical Chinese retailers that we’d be lucky to be stocked in…retailers that would support our brand values because they have values just as strong as ours. We’ll be reconnecting as soon as this law is lifted, because the need for clean and trustworthy personal care products in China is real!
How about Hong Kong? Cocokind DOES sell to an organic distributor in Hong Kong (Spice Box Organics), a company that has been a longtime friend of ours and who was one of the first retailers to be USDA certified organic in HK. To be clear, Hong Kong does not require animal testing and has a completely separate legal system from Mainland China. One other thing worth noting is that companies who sell via online shops to Mainland China are also not required to animal test. We’re getting there!
I hope this answers any future questions about our policy in China and/or animal testing. We also hope that you stand by our decisions! Should you have any questions or comments, you know where to find me: firstname.lastname@example.org.