ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, US — The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) on June 3 welcomed a new protocol, released this week by the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which paves the way for pet food manufacturers to expand access into the Chinese marketplace.

APHIS created the protocol specifically for exporting US pet food products to the Asian country, signaling a critical step forward in bringing the positive benefits of the US-China phase one trade agreement to bear.

“For nearly a decade, US pet food manufacturers have been hamstrung in their ability to access the world’s third largest pet population due to China’s unclear and opaque requirements guiding how American-made pet food and treats could be imported,” said Constance Cullman, president and chief executive officer of the AFIA. “China’s unscientific demands to remove ruminant-origin ingredients only compounded the problem, forcing US pet food manufacturers to make costly decisions to reformulate their pet food and treats or lose out in this marketplace. We thank the APHIS staff for working throughout the public health emergency to hold up the United States’ end of the bargain in this trade deal and we promise to hold up ours by continuing to produce high-quality, diverse and nutritious food and treat options for China’s pets.”

 APHIS’s new protocol, which goes into effect Aug. 15, creates a transparent process by which US pet food manufacturers can achieve broader access to the Chinese market. This process facilitates the export of products containing ruminant-origin ingredients and removes other procedural barriers, such as Chinese-required facility questionnaires and unnecessary audits. It also includes provisions on how to safely continue utilizing poultry products in pet food in the event of a highly pathogenic avian influenza or virulent Newcastle disease outbreak from unaffected regions of the country — a continued sign of progress between the two countries in implementing the China phase one trade agreement.