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China Food Operation License / Food Production License Application

In China, the Food Operation License and Food Production License are essential for participants in the food industry for a legal operation. The entire process includes the critical examination of facilities, strict training of employees, and rechecking of documents to make sure the business can properly handle, maintain, and retail food products. Let’s find out how you may pass through the application processes with confidence with Hongda.

China's Growing Food Market - Your Next Business Opportunity

China has a total population of 1.4 billion, making it one of the largest food markets globally. Apart from its original cuisines, various food products, such as grains, need to be majorly imported from overseas. As consumer expectations for food grow, there is a greater emphasis on food safety, quality, and unique experiences. Imported goods, such as fresh seafood, dairy products, and health foods, provide distinct styles and experiences that appeal to domestic consumers. As a food industry player, you may want to engage in the sales of these food products through different channels, including partnering with distributors, or choosing to open your own online e-commerce shops

However, it is important to obtain the necessary licenses, such as the Food Operation License or Food Production License, whose application processes are diverse and strict. Hongda has accumulated rich experience in the application process and possessed a deep understanding of both domestic and international food regulations and policies. This enables us to quickly analyze and provide the best application strategies for you, ensuring a smooth and efficient application. 



What License Do I Need for My Food Business in China?

In Hongda’s previous blog, we introduced the essential licenses to run your food operation business in China (click here to read more). 

On this service page, Hongda will guide you to a deeper understanding of when you, as a participant in the food business industry, need to apply for a Food Business License or Food Production License. Once your specific application needs are confirmed, Hongda will be willing to assist you in obtaining the necessary documents!


Food Operation Industry Classification and licenses required

Fig 1. Food Operation Industry Classification and Licenses Required for Operation


Catering Service Providers

Whether a catering service provider needs to obtain a Food Operation License depends on the size and operation area of the restaurant. For micro restaurants whose areas are smaller then 50 m2, only filing and recordation with the local Administration for Market Regulation is required, and Food Operation License is not a compulsory permit for them. However, for medium to large-sized restaurants and central kitchen enterprises with a business area greater than 50m², a Food Operation License is still required.


Sales of Pre-packed Food

From 29th April 2021, food operators dealing only in pre-packed foods are no longer required to apply for a Food Operation License. You now only need to complete a registration process to sell pre-packed foods including health food, food for special medical purposes, infant and baby formula milk powder, other infant and baby formula foods, beverages and alcoholic beverages, and alcohols.


Catering Management Companies

Catering management companies refer to food operators that manage cafeterias under contract or provide entrusted management services to other catering service operators. In addition, they also include companies owning certain restaurant chains. Since catering management companies engage only in activities like marketing and management consulting, and do not directly provide catering services to consumers, they do not need to obtain a Food Operation License. For example, while a KFC restaurant, which directly serves food to consumers, requires a food operation license, Yum! Brands, which owns KFC, does not need one.


Food Production Enterprises

Unlike the aforementioned types of food business operators, food production enterprises need to obtain a Food Production License. The discussion here only covers situations where your business is involved solely in production and does not sell directly to consumers. If your food production enterprise also sells directly to end consumers, such as through an online sales platform, you may need to apply for an additional food operation license.



We believe that with the detailed introduction above, you now know whether your food business requires a food operation license or a food production license. Next, Hongda will explain how we can assist you in applying for these two types of food industry licenses. You can click on the titles below to get specific information about the application process for a food operation license or a food production license.


I need to apply for ……. (please click to choose)



Hongda consultation

Our Promises


Doing business with HONGDA is getting a share in our know-how, expertise and dedication. Our determination leaves our customers with peace in mind, as they know our passion and strive for perfection in all that we do.

To ensure that we keep pushing the boundaries of what our market can expect, we relentlessly strive for increased benefits of doing business with HONGDA. To declare our efforts, our daily work is based on 4 tangible, practical promises to our customers - and just as much to ourselves.

Everything You Need To Do


Consult and confirm proposal

Book a free consultation with our experts and receive our comprehensive proposal for you to confirm.


Contract Signing and make payment

Sign the service contract and make payment.


Preparing Documents

We will send everything that you need to prepare, not hard at all.


Wait for the good news

Leave rest of the work to Hongda and we will inform you in 1-2 weeks.


Sound United

Jack Peng
Sound United Vice President > Asia Pacific

Sound United is the leading designer and manufacturer of consumer audio products in the US. Sound United has been using Hongda since 2013. Moving one’s operation to China is not a small task, But Hongda’s expert services helped us set up a company and deal with tax issues so we could get on with growing our business in no time at all, and that’s why we continue to use them today.


Business service Guidance

Hongda Business Services helps foreign businesses looking to establish in the PRD (Pearl River Delta, Guangdong), Shanghai and Hong Kong take advantage of everything that China has to offer. We typically work with companies in Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Zhuhai, Zhongshan, Shanghai, and Hong Kong.



How do I set up a company in Shenzhen or the PRD?

Prepare the shareholder certificate, letter of good standing from the bank. Find an office in China. Make the application (of course better find a professional agent in China to help you).

Do I need to have a foreign company to start a company in China?

No, you could also use your personal name to start the company in China.

What are the drawbacks of a WFOE / rep office / JV?

Rep.Office:High tax, could not hire Chinese employees directly.

WFOE/JV: Slow registration time.

The benefit of all is that if you aim to run a business in China, any will allow you to do so. 

Do I need to personally go to China to set up the company?

No, you dont. Hongda Business Services
can help you to do this while you are abroad.

Do I need an actual office space to register a WFOE / rep office / JV?

Luckily now, you dont. Hongda Business Services can provide the office address for registration. 

Which documentation do I need for a WFOE / Rep Office / JV?

Oversea investor's certificate, bank reference letter and office in China are the key documents for each company type. 


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