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Exporters see huge potential from China’s growing appetite for imported cheese

cheese in china, chinese market, cheese exporters, cheese market

At the upmarket Black Swan bakery in Beijing, Jin Yuchen is buying a birthday cake for his mother.


Jin is one of a rapidly growing number of Chinese consumers with a taste for non-traditional foods such as rich cakes and pizza that is fuelling demand for imported cheese.


Like many others, Jin chooses domestic producers for his daily milk consumption but wants that extra badge of quality for a special occasion.


"I drink milk produced domestically," Jin says as he selects a pink confection. "But for my mother, I insisted on buying a cake that uses high-quality ingredients."


The Black Swan bakery imports cream cheese and other dairy products from New Zealand's Fonterra, the world's largest dairy exporter, which is ramping up cheese production to meet the growing Chinese demand.


Chinese diets have traditionally been low on dairy products, in part because most adult Chinese are lactose intolerant, meaning they have difficulty digesting the sugar found in milk. Cheese and cream contain lower levels of lactose than milk.


Euromonitor International expects the China cheese market to jump 23 percent to 3.5 billion yuan this year.


"The tastes of Chinese consumers are developing and more of them are becoming more accustomed to Western food culture," Euromonitor said in a report this month.


"With the rapid expansion of fast food chains such as Pizza Hut and McDonalds, the majority of Chinese people have already tasted cheese and have found they are able to accept it."


"Dairy import companies are really starting to think about developing their cheese segments," said Matthieu David-Experton, chief executive of Daxue Consulting in Shanghai. "The market is wide open."

位於上海的咨询公司Daxue Consulting的执行长Matthieu David-Experton称,"乳品进口公司真的开始在考虑发展他们的奶酪业务了,市场前景广阔。"

New Zealand is the largest cheese supplier to China with around 45-50 percent of imports, but other countries are snapping at its heels. Australia has around 20 percent of the market, the United States around 15-20 percent and Europe about 10-15 percent.


U.S. firm Kraft Heinz Co, which sells products such as Kraft Parmesan Cheese in China, said it sees "significant untapped potential" for many of its brands in China.

美国Kraft Heinz称,他们认为公司旗下的许多品牌在中国市场"有着巨大的未开发潜能"。

The United States has ambitions to lift China above its current position as the country's No.5 cheese export market, its Dairy Export Council said.


"Just as Fonterra and other supplies from Oceania and Europe are seeing, we see China as a growing opportunity," said by Alan Levitt, the council's vice president of communications.

"与恒天然及其它来自大洋洲及欧洲的供应商一样,我们也认为中国市场蕴藏着更大的商机,"该委员会副主席Alan Levitt说。

But for many, part of the cache comes from using foreign-sourced cheese, no matter the expense.



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