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June 28, 2017

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Mayor defends 'Hsinchu rice noodles' brand against government regulations

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Hsinchu Mayor Hsu Ming-tsai (許明財) said yesterday that not only is the "Hsinchu rice noodles" brand a legacy of the island's forefathers, but it is also a brand sought after by the global consumer market, stressing that it would be unwise to change the label.

The mayor made the remarks in response to a new regulation stipulating that only products containing more than 50 percent rice can be labeled and sold as "rice noodles."

Last year, the Consumers' Foundation said that most rice noodle products sold in markets contain only a small amount of actual rice as an ingredient, citing suspicions of fraudulent advertising. The Ministry of Health and Welfare subsequently resolved to demand that manufacturers re-label "rice noodle" products containing less than 50 percent rice.

Rice noodles are a regional specialty of Hsinchu.

Accompanied by Kuomintang lawmaker Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟), Hsu and representatives rice noodle manufacturers yesterday held a press conference at the Legislative Yuan

Hsu said that as a brand, "Hsinchu rice noodles" signifies more than just a type of food. The mayor explained that the brand signifies more than 200 years of culture, urging the Ministry of Health and Welfare to allow companies to retain the label, so that the products can continue to help promote Taiwanese culture on the global stage.

Company representatives pledged that the actual ingredients of their products will be labeled in accordance with regulations, but asked that they be allowed to retain the Hsinchu rice noodles label and by extension the brand value it carries.

One representative said that his industry has reached an annual market scale of NT$3 billion to NT$4 billion, adding that there have even been instances of firms from other countries counterfeiting the brand to edge in on the market share.

The representative explained that it would be unwise to re-label the products, considering that Taiwanese firms will lose their share of the market if they are forced to do so.

A Hsinchu-based business owner said that manufacturers adjust the ingredients and the prices in accordance with consumer demand.

The business owner further explained that local firms will lose their competitive edge in the global consumer market in as short as six months if they are forced to re-label the products.

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