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China has an insatiable appetite for butter and cheese

During the month of June this year China’s dairy imports increased in volume compared to the same month the previous year, in particular whole milk powder (+120.2%), milk and cream (+43.9%), butter and cheese (+27.7%) and infant formula (+18.0%). The general growth trend during the first half of this year amounted to 30.6%.

The growth enjoyed by butter and cheese is particularly interesting. With a 24% increase over the first half of 2015, cheese imports have made a truly remarkable recovery (at least 45,567 tonnes) which is even more significant if one analyses data from 2014-2015 in which there was a substantial deadlock at 36,055 and 36,669 tonnes respectively.

China’s main supplier of cheese is still New Zealand, which has more than half of the market share (54%) and has increased in volume by 34%. Australia holds second place with 20% of the market share and a product increase of 31%, thereby experiencing a recovery after the sharp decline in 2015. Instead, the USA, third in the ranking, is in free fall: its 6,250 tonnes in 2014 fell to 5,801 in 2015 and then 3,919 in 2016, marking a decrease of 32%. France has given an excellent performance by more than doubling its export volume, arriving at 1,836 tonnes, which marks an outstanding increase of 114% compared to the same period the previous year. The market share held by Denmark is also interesting; in 2015 it experienced a boom like France and in 2016 has confirmed its positive trend even though it has had to ‘settle’ for an increase of only 14%.

As far as butter imports are concerned, after the dramatic drop in the first half of 2015, 2016 has opened with good prospects experiencing a strong increase of 35% (44,174 tonnes of product compared to 32,768 the previous year, though still far from the 53,187 of 2014). New Zealand is China’s main supplier of butter and has an incredible 87% of the market. With 38,500 tonnes, it has registered an increase of 39%. France follows at a considerable distance with an increase of almost 50% compared to the same period the previous year. France’s figures are infinitely smaller than New Zealand’s (French butter sold in the first half of this year amount to almost 2,100 tonnes). Third and fourth place are held by Belgium (+57% with 1,432 tonnes) and Australia (-36% with 964 tonnes). Fifth placed, Holland has registered an excellence performance with a substantial increase of 137%.