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Cheese snacks show greatest potential in Chinese dairy market, says report

2019-07-16 10:45 Tuesday


For many decades, food tastes between the young and old have diverged. When it comes to dairy, this is no exception. Few would be surprised to learn that fruit flavor ice-cream is the major preserve of children, whilst less sugary, more refined choices such as natural yoghurt and luxury desserts are the traditional choice of the older generation.

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This is also the case in China, where a recent report has offered a glimpse into the exact breakdown of dairy consumption according to age. The results indicate that most Chinese adults mainly drink milk and yogurt, and tend to steer clear of solid dairy products such as cheese and butter. Teenagers and younger children, meanwhile, appear to like cheese.

In the West, rich cheeses such as Parmesan and cheddar are staples of the adult diet. But in China, most adult consumers do not like the taste of cheese, it seems, for different reasons. Some have suggested that older consumers worry about putting weight or consider cheese to be prohibitively expensive.

The surprising findings were featured in Chinese Milk Quotient report, which was published last month in Beijing by the China Dairy Industry Association and Netherlands-based dairy producer Royal FrieslandCampina.  The study was based on a survey of more than 4,000 respondents from twenty different Chinese cities.

Furthermore, youngsters born after 2010, that is under 9 years old, like cheese the best. Over 23% of respondents said they love to eat cheese. Only 1.6% from that age group said they do not like cheese. That figure is much lower than corresponding proportion of those from the older generations.

By way of comparison, over half of consumers from the generation born in the 1970s and 1960s said they are not fans of cheese. For those in the middle, roughly speaking teens through to those in their 30s, the figure was about 10 percent, according to the authors.

In particular, those from the youngest group eat cheese 3 days a week on average. Those from the older generations all consume such products less than once a week, the report showed.

"Teens and kids in China have gradually formed the habit of eating solid dairy products," said Song Kungang, former chairman of the Chinese National Committee of the International Dairy Federation.

“For domestic dairy makers, developing more cheese products wrapped in snacks like cheese sticks and small packages should be one of their growing trends. In fact, cheese contains a high volume of calcium and it’s easily absorbed by human bodies,” he added.

“Kids, middle-aged people and the elderly, as well as those who have problems of lactose intolerance, hypertension and hyperlipidemia, can still eat cheese.”

A spokesperson from Royal FrieslandCampina said there is strong growth potential for cheese snacks globally, and the compound annual growth rate stands at around 3%. The profit that cheese snacks may achieve may be 5 to 7 times higher than regular cheese, they predicted.

The report also said Chinese consumers have a high awareness of drinking milk, and they know about its importance and beneficial qualities, yet many people haven’t formed a strong habit of drinking milk enough.

Currently, the nation is the 2nd-largest dairy market globally after the U.S. For 2019, total sales of dairy products are expected to reach US$64.73 billion in China, according to a market research analysis from Euromonitor International.

Next year, China is foreseen as overtaking the States to jump into the number one spot, with an expected total sales revenue of US$66.05 billion, higher than the US$64.8 billion of the U.S., according to the experts.

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