The Dairy Market in China: Business Opportunities and Challenges

report| 11 January 2017

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As China’s urbanisation expands and the middle class continues to grow, consumers’ demand for high-quality dairy products is predicted to further increase in the next ten years. The adjustment of China’s one-child policy and the abolition of the EU milk quota system also add a positive impact on the market opportunities for European dairy products in the country. 20 out the 28 EU member states now have facilities authorised to export dairy products to China.

The EU SME Centre’s report on The Dairy Market in China helps European dairy brands gain the best insights into the Chinese market, having sufficient and reliable data and information on hand to make the right business decisions when it comes to China.

This 65-page report reveals detailed market data and analysis for the major categories of dairy products within the sector, covering milk, infant milk formula, cheese, yoghurt and ice cream. For each category, you will find valuable data on the market size, import trend by value and volume, insights to market drivers and Chinese consumer behaviour and a list of international and domestic players in the market.

The Chinese market is changing fast, from sales channels to pricing, from changing regulations to new entry ways such as cross-border e-commerce. It was unthinkable two years ago that dairy products could be delivered direct from, for example, a UK supermarket chain, European online shopping platforms or a Dutch milk brand’s cold chain logistics. This means a box of milk could take just three-four days to ship from the source to the Chinese consumer’s home.

You will learn in this report which countries are leading the dairy products exports to China by category and the best-selling brands in the market. It is worth reading if you want to cope with the vast array of required knowledge to sell dairy products in China, to use it as sales or planning tool, keep track of information, or give better advice as a consultant to your own clients.

Contents Definition and Segments of Dairy Main Policies and Regulations for Dairy Products Market Overview: Market Size, Performance, Market Drivers, Consumer Behaviour, Competitive Landscape

  • Milk
  • Infant Milk Formula
  • Cheese
  • Yoghurt
  • Ice Cream

Top Selling Products and Prices Market Entry Modes

  • Export to China
  • Setting up a base in China
  • E-commerce
  • Regulations: Importing Dairy Products to China
  • Customs
  • Tariff and Tax

Opportunities and Challenges

About the Authors

Sally Jin, Project Manager, China Britain Business Council (CBBC)

Sally Jin is a Project Manager of CBBC China focusing on food and drink industry, providing UK companies with professional and comprehensive analysis of the Chinese market as well as solutions to expanding business in China. She has successfully identified local distributors, retailers or partners for UK companies of different sizes and needs. Sally helps to build such reciprocal connections through trade shows, receptions, meetings, etc. She also compiles research reports in which latest market information is analysed and valuable business suggestions are concluded for UK companies before they come to China. Prior to CBBC, she worked for United Business Media Group in Shanghai, managing all marketing campaigns of Ecobuild China, an international trade show for the building industry. After over 6-year’s study in the UK, Sally graduated from Cass Business School, City University of London. She holds a Master Degree in International Accounting and Finance.

Aideen Clery, Trade Services Manager, China- Britain Business Council (CBBC)

Aideen Clery assists with the delivery of Business Support Services (BSS) projects across CBBC’s 13 offices in China. She has worked on over 400 BSS projects and other CBBC Research projects since joining CBBC in 2012. Aideen has worked on reports covering various sectors including food & beverage, advanced engineering, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, cosmetics and retail amongst others; Aideen has therefore developed knowledge of the challenges companies face when entering in the Chinese market. Aideen came to China in July 2012. In September 2016, she transferred to Belfast, to head up CBBC’s Northern Ireland office. Aideen has a BA in Language and Cultural Studies and Masters in International Relations.

Rafael Jimenez, Business Development Advisor, EU SME Centre

With more than six years’ hands-on experience in managing a business in China, Rafael offers advice for European SMEs in developing practical market entry strategies in the country.

Following a career at a senior level within the F&B and ICT industry, he arrived in China in 2009 as Director of a Spanish F&B company involved in the restaurant and trade business. He helped the company set up a Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise (WFOE) in China, ran operations for three years and led a team of more than 100 employees. More recently he was Shanghai Office Director at a Management Consultancy Firm. Born in Spain, Rafael holds a bachelor of Physics and has three sons.

Domenico Di Liello, Knowledge Centre Coordinator, EU SME Centre

Domenico Di Liello is supporting EU SMEs in their business development to China at the EU SME Centre in Beijing. Having joined in 2012, Domenico conducts research on different aspects of the Chinese business environment, with a special focus on the green-tech and E-commerce sectors. He has worked on various B2B events and trade missions in China. He first moved to China in 2006 and has been living in China consecutively since 2010. He is particularly interested in field research on the environmental sustainability of Chinese economic growth.

Domenico holds a Masters degree in Political Sciences and a Bachelors degree in Literature and Philosophy from Naples University “L’Orientale”. He also has a Masters degree from the School of Economics at the Renmin University of China, Beijing.


If you have any questions, please send us an email at

This report was published during the EU SME Centre in China Phase II (2014-2020), which was funded by the European Union (ICI+/2014/346-276).

The report was drafted in collaboration with external creators, who worked under service agreements with the Consortium running the EU SME Centre Phase II. The copyrights and intellectual property of this publication belong to the Consortium partner China-Britain Business Council. The latter was authorised by and acted on behalf of the Consortium running EU SME Centre in China Phase II. The China-Britain Business Council, which is currently part of the Consortium running the EU SME Centre in China Phase III, has granted the rights of use of this report to the current Consortium. The report is therefore re-published and made available during the EU SME Centre Phase III.

Sign up and benefit from our entire range of free services

If you sign up today you’ll be able to

  • Access to tailored advice through our Ask-the-Expert tool
  • A library of over 200 publications
  • Practical business tools
  • A network of trade promotion and business support partners
  • A comprehensive database of service providers with contact information