A new survey done by the China Dairy Industry Association with FrieslandCampina revealed that the Generation Z (Gen Z) group is leading in the consumption of dairy products in China with their daily intake of milk and milk derivatives exceeding national average. Gen Z is a group of consumers born from 1995 to 2009. As such, they should be in their teens or early adulthood age (15 to 29 years old).
The report also found that the milk quotient of Chinese consumers is 64.1 points out of 100 this year, the highest reading since the survey began. In 2020, the milk quotient was 62.7. The China Milk Quotient, an indicator system launched in 2018, is determined through industry research and expert workshops. The Milk Quotient is a metric that measures the receptiveness, acceptance and awareness of the Chinese public to dairy and dairy products, implying a potential corresponding rise in demand. It was conducted via surveys performed in 20 cities across the country.
The steady increase in the milk quotient over the past 6 years showed that Chinese consumers are increasingly looking for nutritional and high quality products in their diet, said Ren Fazheng, Professor at China Agricultural University.
The new survey on 4,000 respondents in 20 Chinese cities also found that 78.4% of them would check the labels of dairy products while making purchases. High nutrition, high-quality source or region of milk, low sugar, low fat, zero additives, and organic certification have all become important factors when deciding to choose the dairy products in China.
In addition, the survey also found that over half of the respondents supplement their protein and energy by drinking milk after exercising, as such functional dairy products that are closely associated with fitness or exercising have attracted greater consumer interest.
The dairy consumption market in China has continued to expand. In 2022, the national raw milk production volume reached 40.69 million metric tons, up 7.8% year-on-year, signifying continuous growth over the last 5 years, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. In 2022, China had 622 medium or large dairy- producing enterprises, and their total sales revenue grew at 1.1% annually to reach a combined Rmb 471.73 billion (US$66.3 billion).
According to the Chinese Dietary Guidelines, Chinese adults are recommended to consume 500g of milk or equivalent dairy products daily. However, most Chinese consume much lower volume of dairy when compared to the more developed countries. China’s annual dairy consumption volume is still less than one-third of the global average. This however translates to huge growth prospect for the dairy segment in China. China’s leading dairy company, Yili Group, for instance achieved sales revenue of Rmb 123.2 billion (US$17.2 billion) and stellar growth of 11.37% in 2022 making the company one of the world’s leading producer of dairy products.
As the dairy industry continues to grow in China, sustainability will be the ongoing topic of interest for both producers and consumers. This will be even more important as Gen Z, the younger consumers who are more adventurous and willing to try new products while at the same time more concern of their health and the environment, becomes the dominant consumer group for dairy products in China.
Chen Ge, President of FrieslandCampina China concluded, “We will continue to integrate the concept of sustainable development into the entire chain of product research and development, and make more efforts to popularize scientific facts about dairy products in China.”