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Embracing Change: The Evolution of China’s Cheese Industry

2023.12.27

Pioneering a Cheese Consumption Revolution

 

The Chinese cheese market, currently accounting for a mere 5% of dairy consumption, stands on the cusp of exponential growth. Compared to mature markets boasting over 10kg per capita cheese consumption, China's modest 2.2 kg to 1.8 kg figures (reminiscent of South Korea and Japan) represent a remarkable opportunity for nearly tenfold expansion.

 

 

Urban Appetites: Penetrating the Culinary Tapestry

 

Major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen have witnessed an astounding surge in cheese penetration, escalating to 38.0% by 2021, closely shadowed by provincial capitals at 30.6%. This burgeoning interest reflects a dynamic shift in local preferences and palates.

 

Market Dynamics: A Gastronomic Journey

 

Amidst this market expansion, the culinary landscape witnesses an eruption of innovative cheese-infused categories, predominantly thriving within the thriving restaurant sector. 2020 witnessed restaurant cheese sales towering at 155,600 tons, nearly doubling retail sales at 81,600 tons. The cheese sales of 2022 surged with restaurant sales to reach 163,200 tons, while retail sales escalated to 86,100 tons.

 

 

Emerging Frontier: Nurturing a New Culture

 

The Chinese cheese market, still in its infancy at less than 5% of total dairy consumption, emerges as an exciting frontier laden with immense potential. This nascent sector calls for comprehensive consumer education and stands witness to the rapid symbiotic growth between businesses and consumers, within a landscape where competition remains relatively uncharted.

 

Origins & Localization: A Tapestry of Global Influence

 

The origins of cheese in the Chinese market primarily emanate from cheese-producing regions across Europe, North America, and Australia. These cheeses arrive through direct imports or strategic collaborations with local Chinese firms. Notably, there's a growing trend of foreign brands establishing local production facilities, echoing the market's inclination towards localization.

 

 

Future Vision: A Journey Beyond Financial Frontiers

 

Projections indicate an upward trajectory for the cheese market, projecting a value exceeding 100 billion CNY by 2035. This continued growth, despite an anticipated single-digit annual increase in 2022, is fueled by advancements in dairy product categories and an escalating demand for high-quality cheese.

 

Customer-Centric Innovation: A Personalized Complementary Food Products 

 

In a landscape embracing diversity, the industry ventures into the realm of the mother & child food market, emphasizing the creation of complementary food products. Innovations like CHEESPIRIT's 'Five-Dimensional Natural Beauty Cheese' cater to evolving consumer needs, addressing more than just calcium and protein – addressing vision, mental capacity, digestive power, self-protection, and comprehensive bone strength.

 

Challenges & Opportunities: A Balancing Act

 

The industry grapples with challenges arising from limited localization and product diversity. A spotlight on certain cheese types curtails market diversity. Yet, amidst these challenges, consumer tastes and attributes shine as beacons for innovation.

 

Strategic Insights: The Dual Landscape

 

The cheese industry in China delineates into two distinct arenas – Retail (consumer) and Restaurant (business). Consumer products, mainly reconstituted cheese, demonstrate higher markup rates compared to business products, highlighting varying profit margins and diverse consumption patterns.

 

SIAL’s Role in the Cheese Revolution

 

SIAL in China will leverage SIAL SHANGHAI and SIAL Shenzhen to help foreign companies in the cheese sector capture market share in 2024 through strategic measures, including:

 

● Exhibit Presentations: Showcasing products at booths.

● SIAL GLOBAL FOOD INDUSTRY SUMMIT

*Highlighted Forums for Cheese Professionals

 Import Food Forum (Both Shanghai and Shenzhen)

 SIAL Talks – Manufacturers (Shanghai only)

 Global New Retail Forum (Both Shanghai and Shenzhen)

New Health Food Forum (Shanghai only)

● Event Highlights

*Highlighted Events for Cheese Exhibitors

 La Cuisine (Shanghai only)

 Chinese Restaurant (Shanghai only)

Snacking Awards (Both Shanghai and Shenzhen)

 

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