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What happens to rejected products in China?

In China, a conscious effort is made to avoid wasting anything. For example, they will try to eat all organs of an animal.

This good habit naturally made its way in the manufacturing industry:

  • There are some defects? Let’s just mix them with the good products, to avoid being caught.
  • The entire batch is rejected by a customer? Let’s try to sell it to another one, or to local shops.

In other words, don’t expect your Chinese suppliers to destroy a production that you have refused. They will never accept to take that kind of loss. They will try to do something else with it.

The designs were licensed and bear your brand name? So what?

The products are actually unsafe and should not be used by anybody? Who are you to judge that?


On Saturday I found a good example. Something weird was going on, in the fisherman’s wharf of Shekou:



Here is what I saw:

  1. The cans contained powder milk.
  2. Every single can’s lid had already been punched before getting to this place.
  3. The workers opened the lid fully, and others emptied the cans inside large bags.


These cans had clearly been rejected. That port is very close to Hong Kong, so one can imagine many scenarios.

What will they do with all this milk powder? I hope they feed pigs with it, but I am afraid they re-package it in a dirty factory and re-sell it in stores…


Milk powder has been suspect in the eyes of most Chinese since the Sanlu scandal of 2008. Tons of milk are purchased in Hong Kong and brought to the mainland every month.

Old habits die hard…

Renaud Anjoran is the founder of Sofeast Quality Control and helps importers to improve and secure their product quality in China. He writes advice for importers on the Quality Inspection blog. He lives full time in Shenzhen, China. You can contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..







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