More cheese, please! Exporters toast China's taste for pizza and cakes
By Meng Meng and Naomi Tajitsu
BEIJING/WELLINGTON (Reuters) - At the upmarket Black Swan bakery in Beijing, where well-heeled customers browse rooms of glass cases displaying elaborate layered western-style cakes, Jin Yuchen is buying a birthday cake for his mother.
Jin is one of a rapidly growing number of Chinese consumers with a taste for non-traditional foods such as rich cakes and pizza that is fuelling demand for imported cheese.
Like many others, Jin chooses domestic producers for his daily milk consumption but wants that extra badge of quality for a special occasion.
"I drink milk produced domestically," Jin says as he selects a pink confection. "But for my mother, I insisted on buying a cake that uses high-quality ingredients."
The Black Swan bakery imports cream cheese and other dairy products from New Zealand's Fonterra, the world's largest dairy exporter, which is ramping up cheese production to meet the growing Chinese demand.
Chinese diets have traditionally been low on dairy products,
in part because most adult Chinese are lactose intolerant, meaning they have difficulty digesting the sugar found in milk. Cheese and cream contain lower levels of lactose than milk.
Euromonitor International expects the China cheese market to jump 23 percent to 3.5 billion yuan ($547 million) this year. Continued...