Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Wisconsin is a top producer of cheese and other dairy products and could tap into the growing dairy market in China.
Consumers in China crave more milk and cheese, and that bodes well for Wisconsin’s dairy industry.
Between 2010 and 2019, China’s dairy imports rose at a compound annual rate of 16.5%, with condensed milk, cream, cheese and whey products especially popular—their sales rose more than 20% a year.
Euromonitor International projects that China’s dairy market will top ¥550 billion ($79 billion USD) in 2024, and domestic producers don’t have enough capacity to meet that need, so U.S. dairy processors are filling a significant portion of the demand.
China is the fourth-largest overseas market for skim-milk powder and the sixth-largest importer of cheese from the U.S.
Wisconsin is the No. 1 state for cheese production and No. 2 for the dairy industry overall, behind only California.
New products such as cheese sticks, goat milk powder and oat milk are recent additions to the market in China, expanding the range of consumers’ choices, while increasing interest in healthy foods also has driven more attention to dairy options. Dried dairy products, in particular, are gaining ground among Chinese consumers.
Meanwhile, the Chinese government reduced tariffs on dairy products—including infant milk powder, whey, cheese and lactose—making it more attractive for exporters to sell their dairy products there and less expensive for consumers in China to buy them.
China also agreed to recognize that the U.S. system of oversight for dairy products provides the same level of protection as China's, eliminating the need for China-specific inspections of U.S. dairy facilities. China now allows ovine (sheep) and caprine (goat) origin dairy product imports from the U.S., which were previously prohibited.
First-time exporters to China should still conduct the product registration process, though, to make sure the products are qualified to be exported.