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Italian milk looks to conquer the Chinese market

Chinese consumer tastes are changing. After the milk powder boom, it’s now the moment of packaged milk and cheese. This is according to CLAL, a consulting firm based in Modena that operates in the dairy sector.

Compared to previous years there has been a significant decline in Chinese imports of whole milk powder (-71.5% last October and -63% last September).

Imports of packaged UHT milk, however, have shot up by 200.2%. This unstoppable upward trend registered +167.3%, then +134% in July, +162.5% in August and +186.5% last September, creating a huge job for Chinese customs which registered a never-before-seen record of roughly 32,500 tonnes of incoming packaged milk.

There are two factors arising from the report which could lead to big opportunities for the ‘Made in Italy’ dairy sector and shouldn’t be underestimated: a bigger demand for packaged milk from abroad indicating the need on the part of Chinese consumers for more secure products from a food and quality point of view; and the increase in the purchasing power of the Chinese, who are requesting packaged products (such as UHT milk) or finished products (such as cheese).

These two products are key products of the Italian agri-food chain. On the other hand, everyone knows that Italian milk and cheeses are recognised worldwide for their excellence. Naturally, in order to be able to get a look-in on the immense market of the Asian giant, it would be preferable if there was greater convergence between the various consortia for the protection of the big PDO productions.

As far as UHT milk is concerned, Italy is among the top 20 exporters in the world. It is in fact in eleventh place in a ranking that sees Germany in top place, followed by Australia, New Zealand and France.
The signing of a bilateral agreement with China would also be essential in order to obtain a reduction in customs duty, just as Australia and New Zealand have already done.