Survey shows growing awareness, wide range of products will offset low use
A new report has labelled Chinese residents weak in knowledge and hence consuming low volumes of dairy products, suggesting there is significant growth potential for the domestic dairy industry.
Based on a survey of 4,000 respondents from more than 20 Chinese cities, the Chinese Milk Quotient report found the milk quotient of Chinese consumers is 60.6 out of 100 points, almost below-standard.
Work on the survey started early this year, and its report was published by the China Dairy Industry Association and Dutch dairy producer Royal FrieslandCampina in September in Beijing.
"Chinese consumers have awareness that milk is good for their health, but the public doesn't know how to correctly eat dairy products, and more importantly, they haven't formed the habit. The task of improving national health literacy is still arduous," said Wu Qiulin, director-general of the CDIA.
Chinese adults should consume 300 grams of milk or the same quantity of dairy products every day, according to the Chinese Dietary Guidelines, but many people are not aware of this advisory.
The report showed only 43 percent of the surveyed consumers knew about the guideline, and more than 22 percent were able to meet the standard. More than 50 million Chinese never drink milk as they do not like the taste and are not used to drinking it, the report found.
Meanwhile, most Chinese merely drink milk and yogurt, and their dairy structure is simple, with very few Chinese consumers eating cheese and butter.
"The ongoing consumption upgrade in the country has necessitated higher requirements for the dairy sector," said Song Kungang, chairman of the Chinese National Committee of International Dairy Federation.
"Some dairy makers introduced differentiated products such as lactose-free milk in China in recent years, to meet the demand of lactose-intolerant Chinese. This is a highly beneficial movement. We'll encourage dairy companies to develop more diversified products and enrich the types of products," he said.
This year, dairy product sales in China are expected to rise 6.4 percent to 399 billion yuan ($57.5 billion), according to market research provider Euromonitor International.
Annual dairy product sales in China are predicted to grow 16.8 percent to 480 billion yuan by 2023. Currently, China is the second-largest dairy market globally, following the United States. This year, total sales of dairy products are expected to reach $65 billion in the US, Euromonitor found.
In China, the annual percapita consumption of dairy products is about 36 kilograms a year, while the figure is 50 kg in neighboring countries Japan and South Korea. Industry experts said China's dairy market is expected to continue to grow.
In major first-tier Chinese cities, the dairy market tends to undertake some structural changes. Sales of high-end pure milk will continue to expand, and sales of yogurt and cheese are seen surging, said Zhang Liebing, associate professor at China Agricultural University.