AUSTRALIAN FOCUS ON CHEESE COULD REAP DIVIDENDS
China’s per capita dairy consumption remains well below that of some of its east Asian neighbours, “such as Japan, Korea and China’s Taiwan”, but there are some dairy product categories exhibiting strong growth opportunities.
“For example, annual cheese consumption in Japan is two to four kilograms per person, while it is close to two kilograms per person in Korea and Taiwan,” Mr Chen said.
“However, in China, it is currently less than 100 grams per person.”
“While this sees China only import around 100,000 tonnes of cheese each year – largely for its food-service sector such as burger chains – Australia supplies nearly a quarter of all China’s cheese import requirements, having seen good trade growth in recent years.
“Butter consumption is also growing faster than other dairy categories, but it also represents a very small component of overall dairy consumption, so, like cheese, there is considerable opportunity for growth.”
Other sectors exhibiting strong growth opportunities include yoghurt and ‘premium’ white milk (which has a higher protein content of 3.3% to 3.4%) compared with ‘mainstream or standard’ milk (with a protein content of 2.9% to 3%).
Mr Chen said while Australia has been importing fresh pasteurised milk into China, representing five per cent of China’s liquid milk imports, it was facing intense competition from domestically-produced milk.
“I see the export of fresh liquid milk into China being a very niche market, given the high air freight costs and increasing local competition.
“To remain sustainable exporters supplying that market will to invest in a strong brand presence to warrant a premium retail price.”