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  • Latest News

    • 04:45 PM Taiwan firm Laurel Enterprises is famous for its frozen dumplings for hotpot and sweet glutinous rice dumplings. Its Laurel Easy Life series of prepared meals was introduced two years ago and they have since become enduringly popular among shoppers.   So far, six separate meal lines have been developed, including six types of spaghetti and 12 types of fried rice. Other dishes include noodles served with sauce, fried udon, oven baked rice and noodles, and western-style rice and pastas. Customers have many variations to choose from. Laurel stresses that "it only takes five minutes to serve a delicious meal". The retail prices of its products lie within the NT$40 to NT$60 range. Not to be outdone, many convenience stores in Taiwan have also launched their own brands of frozen foods. The market leader, 7-Eleven, has come up with its 7-Select series of microwave-friendly, frozen and fast foods. In addition to Italian pastas and fried rice, it also offers fried chicken, French fries, pizzas and other snacks. With the advent of the summer vacations, it has also developed special snacks that go well with wine, such as braised salted peanuts and BBQ chicken wings. The franchise firm invited famous models to advertise its products and tried to increase public attention with frequent TV ads. Diversity apart, 7-Eleven has not lost sight of the fact that consumers are tightening their purse strings in these times of economic hardship. The unit prices of its products range from NT$28 and NT$38, with special discounts for purchases of any three items. Customers can choose any combination of main course and snack and have a good meal at a reasonable price, which suits most modern people on the go. Such is also the model adopted by convenience stores in Hong Kong, which habitually sell instant rice and noodles, as well as snacks like fish balls and Xiu Mai. The similarities suggest Hong Kong food dealers could consider successfully venturing into Taiwan's burgeoning instant foods market with their own style of frozen dim sum and snacks. from Tammy Tien, Taiwan Office
      Content provided by HKTDC Research
      Monday September 3rd, 2012
      Taste is a dish served from frozen
      Taiwan firm Laurel Enterp
    • 10:21 AM It was only a few weeks ago that imported cosmetics brands Lancôme,Clarins and Guerlain announced price hikes, so it was a surprise to some to see these and other top brands putting prices up again more recently, between 5% and 25%.   Product prices at the Hong Kong Estée Lauder special counter rose across the board on 1 August, up 5% to 25%. The price of its red pomegranate facial cleansing milk rose to US$25, increasing 25%; its Time Zone eye cream rose to $49.5, up 10%. A number of department stores in the Jiefangbei, Yangjiaping and Guanyinqiao commercial districts has received verbal notices that prices would rise. A salesperson at Estée Lauder's special counter at the Far Eastern Department Store in Guanyinqiao confirmed that prices of certain cosmetics products would go up due to rising costs of raw materials, labour and transportation. However,  staff still wait for the head office to inform them of the effective date. Some vendors of Estée Lauder products on have indicated that once the prices of products sold at special counters are raised this month, they’ll also adjust prices offered on and at their shops. Apart from Estée Lauder, first-line cosmetics brands Lancôme and Clarins also announced at the end of June that their product prices would go up by 5%. The price of a 30 ml bottle of Lancôme Blanc Expert NeuroWhite rose from Rmb790 to Rmb830. At the beginning of July, Guerlain announced that prices of cosmetics products under its banner would increase by Rmb10 to Rmb100 per item. Now, in a matter of a month, imported cosmetics brands are raising their prices again. Some second-line imported brands are also adjusting prices upward. At some cosmetics shops, the price of DHC's 200 ml makeup remover went up from Rmb210 to Rmb218. The dealers of many cosmetics brands explain that rising raw materials, labour and transportation costs have pushed up product prices. Some consumers complain that upmarket cosmetics brands take advantage of the insensitivity of high-end consumers towards pricing to make small but frequent price hikes. In fact, the recent price increase is an old marketing trick. The costs of top-notch cosmetics mainly comprise advertising, promotion, labour and raw materials, with advertising costs taking up about 20% of profit margins. In recent years, rising promotion costs also spurred the prices of cosmetics in various degrees every year. In order to occupy the best positions in department stores, leading cosmetics brands have had to pay very high rents on top of other charges payable to the store. All these expenses are eventually carried by the consumer. from Patrick He, Chengdu Office
      Content provided by HKTDC Research
      Saturday September 1st, 2012
      Pretty price for cosmetics
      It was only a few weeks a
    • 04:38 PM US wine giant, E & J Gallo Winery (Gallo), announced this month its intention to purchase Courtside Cellars of San Miguel, California. Gallo is among the largest exporters of California wine and its latest acquisition has been done with the intention of producing up to two million cases a year of its own wines, many of which are aimed at the world's fastest-growing market, China. The twelve-year-old Courtside winery will focus on the company's continued growth on California's Central Coast, according to Gallo, which announced no purchase price. The sale includes 34 acres of land and a winery capable of crushing 60,000 tonnes of grapes. Gallo says it's been expanding its presence in the California Central Coast American Viticulture Area (AVA) over the past few years and considers the region to be a key part of its premium wine strategy. Earlier this year, Gallo purchased more than 300 acres of AVA vineyards. Last year, the company bought Edna Valley Vineyard which produces one of the best-selling Chardonnay brands in the US. In 2004, Gallo purchased Bridlewood Estate Winery in Santa Barbara County. Courtside Cellars will be keeping its San Luis Obispo facility where it will build up its Tolosa Winery brand into fine Pinot Noir and Chardonnay estates, as well as offer custom wine services, Gallo says. As well as exports, Gallo imports to the US wines from eight of the major wine growing countries. Gallo has expanded its portfolio to include distilled spirits with the introduction of New Amsterdam Gin and Familia Camarena Tequila. In China, the company sells six different brands of wines, Canyon RoadCarlo RossiDancing BullGallo Family VineyardsMcWilliam's and Rivercrest. Labour shortage reshapes industry California farmers have warned for years of a future of fruit rotting without enough skilled pickers and packers. This year, the evidence seems stronger that the workforce is shrinking, and some say the future could see more mechanisation and imported crops. Wine country labourers are among California's best-paid farm workers, earning well above minimum wages because the commodity demands a highly skilled and reliable workforce. That in itself will increase costs significantly, one reason for rationalisation of the wine-making industry. Vintners are investing in costly machines to help prepare for a future in which recruiting able workers will become more difficult. The trend is for mechanisation to be so good that it doesn't affect the quality of the wine. University of California-Davis farm labour research has found that the farming community has hit "a period of uncertainty." Labour changes are hard to evaluate because of the complex patterns of California farm work, but the recent slowdown in Mexico-US migration has reduced the arrival of newcomers, one reason for the labour shortage. from Teresa Hung, Los Angeles Office
      Content provided by HKTDC Research
      Friday August 31st, 2012
      Mixing wines for growth
      US wine giant, E & J
    • 12:50 PM

      As of 1 July, monitors capable of displaying signals or data from a computer and other devices are entitled to duty-free entry into the United States.  This includes so-called multimedia monitors that can connect to computers but also permit the connection of devices capable of producing video signals (such as DVD players, game consoles and set-top boxes). Historically, CBP classified multimedia monitors in a dutiable provision, finding that they were not "solely or principally" used in or with a computer.

      On 29 June, President Obama modified the Harmonised Tariff Schedule of the United States to include specific duty-free provisions (subheadings 8528.59.21 and 8528.59.31) for monitors able to display signals or data from a computer even if they are not solely or principally used with a computer and are able to display signals or data from other devices.  This presidential proclamation remedies CBP's past decisions prohibiting the classification of multimedia monitors in the duty-free  computer monitor provision (currently subheading 8528.51.00) established pursuant to the Information Technology Agreement, a 1996 international treaty designed to eliminate tariffs on specified information technology products. Under the ITA, computer monitors with cathode ray tubes and flat panel displays for computers were required to receive a duty-free rate regardless of where they were classified.  However, shortly after ITA implementation CBP significantly limited the scope of the provision to exclude multimedia monitors and classified them in other, dutiable provisions.

      The proclamation corrects this limitation, expressly stating that new subheadings 8528.59.21 and 8528.59.31 are designed to provide the intended tariff treatment to certain products covered by the ITA. While importers of multimedia monitors are thus entitled to duty-free treatment for all current and future entries, the proclamation does not address the improper treatment received by importers on past entries (entries from January 1997 forward). Legislative action for past entries is likely needed.

      Content provided by Hong Kong Trade Development Council
      Wednesday August 29th, 2012
      Multimedia Monitors Are Now Entitled To Duty-Free Entry Into the U.S.
      As of 1 July, monitors ca