Dairy preferences diverge with age
Most Chinese adults consume yogurt and milk while teenagers tend to like cheese
In terms of consumption of dairy products, most Chinese adults mainly drink milk and yogurt, and tend to steer clear of solid dairy products like cheese and butter, while teenagers and kids appear to like cheese, a new report has found.
Most adult consumers don't like the taste of cheese, and they also worry about gaining weight and consider cheese expensive, according to the Chinese Milk Quotient report published by the China Dairy Industry Association and Dutch dairy producer Royal FrieslandCampina last month in Beijing.
Nevertheless, kids born after 2010 like cheese the most. More than 23 percent of respondents said they love eating cheese. Only 1.6 percent of the age group said they don't like cheese, much lower than corresponding figure for older generations.
In comparison, more than half of consumers born in the 1970s and 1960s said they don't like cheese. The proportion of those who were born between 1980 and 2010 is about 10 percent, according to the report, which was based on a survey of more than 4,000 respondents from 20 Chinese cities.
Particularly, kids born after 2010 eat cheese three days a week on average. Other generations all eat cheese for less than one day a week, the report found.
"Teenagers and kids in China have gradually formed the habit of eating solid dairy products. For domestic dairy makers, developing more cheese products wrapped in snacks like cheese sticks and small packages should be one of their growing trends," said Song Kungang, former chairman of the Chinese National Committee of the International Dairy Federation.
"In fact, cheese contains a high volume of calcium and it is easy to be absorbed by human bodies. Kids, middle-aged people and the elderly, as well as those who have problems of lactose intolerance, hypertension and hyperlipidemia, can eat cheese," he said.
Dutch dairy maker Royal FrieslandCampina said there is a remarkable growth potential for cheese snacks globally, and its compound annual growth rate is around 3 percent. The profit that cheese snacks may achieve would be five to seven times higher than regular cheese, the company said.
This year, the milk quotient of Chinese consumers is 60.7 out of 100 points, only 0.1 point higher than the result of last year, indicating room for improvement in their knowledge and consuming behavior of dairy products.
Chinese adults consume 237 grams of milk or the same quantity of dairy products every day on average, lower than the advisory of 300 grams daily suggested by the Chinese Dietary Guidelines.
Only 40 percent of the respondents said they were aware of this advisory. Most Chinese consumers regard dairy products as nutriment instead of daily essentials.
Besides, most Western countries suggest that adults should consume 500 grams to 700 grams of dairy products daily, showing the potential for growth in the China market could be huge, the report said.
Now, the annual per-capita consumption of dairy products in China has reached 36 kg, much higher than the 6 kg recorded two decades ago, but the volume is still less than half of Asia and less than a third of the world average, the dairy association said.
The report said Chinese consumers have a high awareness of drinking milk, and they recognize its importance and benefits, yet many people have not formed a good habit of drinking enough milk.
Currently, China is the second-largest dairy market globally after the United States. This year, total sales of dairy products are expected to reach $64.73 billion in China, according to market research provider Euromonitor International.
In 2020, China is foreseen replacing the US as the world's largest dairy market, with an expected total sales revenue of $66.05 billion, higher than $64.8 billion of the US, Euromonitor found.