China is set to become the world’s largest importer of cheese, and this will offer huge potential for US and Australian dairy exporters in the years to come.
US Dairy Export Council (USDEC) reported that China’s import volume for cheese has soared more than 50-fold since 2000, from merely 2,000 metric tonnes to more than 108,000 tons in 2017. In addition, China’s cheese imports posted a CAGR growth rate of 27%.
China is presently the No.7 cheese buyer in the world by volume. USDEC predicted that China will become the world's No. 1 cheese importer over the next 10 years and could reach that milestone even sooner, said Ross Christieson, USDEC business unit director for North Asia.
This is an amazing feat for a country which just started to discover cheese. In a recent USDEC report, Christieson sees 5 major drivers in China namely increasing upper-middle-class and affluent households; a new generation of freer-spending, sophisticated consumers, born since 1980; the growing power and ease of e-commerce delivering cheese to China's doors; the continued spread of Western-style pizza, along with increased cheese utilisation by home-grown bakery outlets; and foodservice chains introducing more Chinese to the pleasure of cheese.
In another report by Rabobank, China is also Australia’s fastest growing cheese market. Rabobank Senior Dairy Analyst Michael Harvey said, “China is where the growth opportunities lie for Australian cheese exports, with China annual cheese imports set to potentially double by 2023.”