Chinese dairy sector trying to expand rapidly to meet surging demand

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Chinese demand for milk (and cheese) has been rising steadily and spiked during the Covid-19 pandemic when doctors touted its health benefits. While China is the world’s third largest milk producer, its 34 MMT in output only satisfied around 70% of domestic needs in in 2020, Reuters reports.

While dairy operations are working to expand, finding millions of more cows is challenging, feed costs are high and both land and water are scarce. Nevertheless, more than 200 new Chinese dairy farm projects were announced last year, according to the consultancy Beijing Orient Dairy, who details 60% of those new projects plant to have herds of 10,000 head or more. That would require 2.5 million cows, which is about half the country’s current milking herd. Existing operations are also working to aggressively expand. C

hina would normally look to import heifers from New Zealand, but New Zealand announced in April it would stop live cattle exports within two years due to animal welfare concerns. Brazil, the U.S. and European countries could prove good sources for breeder cattle, Dou Ming, chief economist at Beijing Orient Dairy, told Reuters.


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