Huge opportunities in China’s surging cheese market 02-24-2017

China’s cheese manufacturers are advancing fast to get their share in the high-speed spreading cheese market in China. However, the main sales channels are still in the food service sector, leaving a high potential for manufacturers to penetrate into China’s retail market.


Source: Pixabay

According to CCM’s research, the cheese industry in China witnessed increasing demand for cheese during 2015-2016. The main sales channels hereby are food services like hotels, caterings, and the baking business. To be more precise, the entrance rate of cheese in China even reached 79%.


Even the retail sector only accounts for 24% of sales in the whole cheese market in China, the future looks very encouraging. According to the Cheese China 2016 Report by Mintel, retail sales are expected to rise at a CAGR of almost 13% until the year 2021. Hence, the amount of distributed cheese would end up at 38,830 tonnes. Moreover, looking at countries around China, like Japan and Vietnam, the potential for cheese sales in retail stores is shifting more obvious. Those two Asian countries already have a retail portion of cheese at about 41% and 73% respectively.


After a strong infiltration of cheese into China’s 1st and 2nd tier cities in previous years, the most attractive and fast growing opportunities for manufacturers and traders can be found nowadays in the 3rd and 4th tier cities in China. Especially bakeries and western style restaurants are witnessing a surging demand for cheese from their customers.


China’s dairy manufacturers have discovered the expanding interest and started to getting into the cheese business as well. However, according to CCM, about 90% of cheese in China is still imported, which is an amount of about 90,000 tonnes yearly.


Imports and Exports

The main exporting country for China’s cheese demand remains New Zealand with a quantity of cheese export to China by more than 51 million kg and a value of over USD216 million. The second rank is Australia with almost 20 million kg and on the third rank can be found the USA with almost 9 million kg.


Top 10 exporting countries of cheese and curd in China, 2016

Source: China Customs


The top exporting countries of cheese and curd in China 2016 from China Customs show, that China’ s cheese import is highly concentrated in the Oceania region, while European countries, which are traditionally famous for cheese products, are lacking behind.


Nevertheless, China is also exporting cheese to several countries, even if the main destination is Hong Kong. Surprisingly, Italy is the second ranked destination of cheese from China, according to the data from China Customs.


Top 5 importing countries of cheese and curd from China in 2016

Source: China Customs


China’s manufacturers increase efforts

For Chinese manufacturers, the jump into the cheese business could be an effective way out of the sluggish market trend of many dairy products in China. While the purchase price of milk is constantly going down in the last years, the cheese business is a promising upmarket diversification.


Currently, only a few Chinese manufacturers have got a share in the cheese business by delivering to brands like McDonald's, Milkana, and Savencia. The supplying Chinese companies, according to CCM, are Bright Dairy & Food and Beijing Sanyuan Food.


Other companies in China are putting a lot of effort into the development of cheese products to get their share in this rising market. One example is Yili, which is developing a cheese product for the Chinese taste currently, with an unknown launch date yet. China Mengniu Dairy is working on launching its own cheese products as well, which demonstrates a diversification from its current product portfolio, consisting only of cheese sticks for infants in this market. Also, Ground Food wants to open a cheese processing factory in spring of 2018, which will be capable of producing about 40,000 tonnes of cheese products yearly. 

About CCM

CCM is the leading market intelligence provider for China’s agriculture, chemicals, food & ingredients and life science markets.

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