How to Sell Dairy Products in China (For Ambitious People Only)

Yogurt and cheese are gaining popularity in the Chinese market. As Chinese consumers become increasingly concerned about healthy consumption, they are willing to pay higher prices for quality dairy products.

China’s dairy Market has great potential

According to China’s industrial information report, the market size of China’s yogurt industry reached 101.17 billion RMB in 2016, with the market breaking through 100 billion RMB for the first time. Milk sales rose 4 percent year-on-year in 2017; and yogurt sales surpassed milk for the first time, at about 119.2 billion RMB, growing much faster than milk. It is predicted that the market size of China’s yogurt industry will exceed 140 billion RMB by the end of 2018.

As for the cheese market, it basically excludes a lot of water from milk and retains the essence of its extremely high nutritional value, which is known as the “gold” in milk. Because of its high nutritional value, cheese has maintained stable growth in China’s consumption market, although China’s annual consumption of cheese is still lower than that of other major developed countries.

“China’s dairy industry has shown positive growth for the first time after experiencing a three-year low, and the industry has begun to recover. China’s dairy industry will fully recover from 2018,” said Song Liang, senior dairy analyst, on the first Chinese Brand Yogurt Innovation Development Forum recently.

From the perspective of the per capita consumption of dairy products in China, the consumption of dairy products in China is far from saturated. There is a huge gap between China’s per capita consumption of dairy products and other large dairy consumption countries such as India. Even in Japan and South Korea, per capita consumption is about twice that of China. Other developing countries, such as Brazil, South Africa, and Mexico, consume about three times more per capita than our own.

More specifically, compared with the average consumption of liquid milk in foreign countries, the average consumption of liquid milk in China is only 17.67kg at present, which is quite lower than in developed countries such as the United States and the UK. In recent five years, milk consumption is stable in South Korea and Japan, and is higher than 65% and 47% of the average consumption of China, although the dietary habits of these two countries are quite similar to that of China.

Moreover, The EU is the region with the largest per capita consumption of cheese in the world. In 2017, the per capita consumption of cheese in the EU was about 17.78kg/ person, the per capita consumption of cheese in the United States was 16.63kg/ person, and the per capita consumption of cheese in Japan was 2.43kg/ person. China’s annual per capita consumption of cheese is just 0.1kg in terms of demand in 2017.

The per capita consumption of dairy products in China is relatively low, and the market space of dairy products in China is still huge.

Chinese consumers are willing to pay a higher price

According to the Mintel report, health-related ingredients are an important factor in consumers’ willingness to pay higher prices when buying dairy products.

In the investigation of the main four kinds of dairy (milk, yogurt, butter, and cheese), consumers regard to milk and yogurt as healthier foods and think they have more health benefits, such as nutritious (51% and 48%, respectively), helps to strengthen immunity (49% and 44%, respectively), suitable for children (51% and 49%, respectively), and the old man (46% and 37%, respectively).

In addition, more people associate milk with high protein (47%), linking yogurt with easy digestion and absorption (60%). However, butter is closely associated with high calorie (50%), high fat (45%), and high cholesterol (34%) and is less associated with health factors.

The cheese is in between consumers aware of the positive perceptions of cheese with high protein (38%) and high nutrition (37%), on the other hand, they believe that cheese has high calories (43%) and high fat (41). %) and other unhealthy problems.

More importantly, adding and reducing healthy ingredients are all factors that consumers are willing to pay a premium for, for example, if dairy products add nutrients such as protein and calcium (47%) and other healthy food ingredients such as nuts and superfruit (44%), customers are more willing to pay higher prices. Additionally, targeting specific groups of people (38%) is also a big factor that consumers are willing to pay a premium for, except for the elderly and young children, potential customers such as fitness people are also a huge market.

More Chinese customers choose imported products?

Overall, Chinese consumers preferred big brands (65 percent) and national dairy brands (59 percent). Consumers’ attitudes toward local milk sources were sharply divided 44 percent said local milk sources were reliable, 36 percent said they were not. However, more consumers prefer imported dairy products (43 percent) than domestic dairy products (34 percent). Even among consumers who buy domestically produced dairy products, 32% say they prefer imported dairy products.

This trend is the most obvious in the consumption of cheese. In 2017, China imported 108,000 tons of cheese and exported about 0.03 million tons of cheese products. Although the annual output increased significantly in 2017, the proportion of imports was still over 50%.

From the war between domestic and imported dairy products, it can be found that consumers seem to regain their confidence in domestic milk sources and dairy products, but still prefer imported dairy products. In order to make domestic dairy products more attractive than imported dairy products, domestic brands can deliver a better product image, emphasize additional health benefits and even try innovative tastes. For imported brands, it is of vital importance to emphasize other competitive advantages besides freshness (such as added nutrition).” said Summer Chen, senior food and drink analyst at Mintel.

How To Sell Your Dairy Products in China?

Go Digital: “Don’t think-Just do it!”

While creating or launching your brand in China, a digital presence is essential. It is not always easy to chose among the different existing solutions even though you can use mixed marketing. You have the possibility to focus on your e-commerce website, use social media, create buzz and or punctual advertising, etc.

Understand your Target

In order to sell your premium Dairy products, you need to study and select a specific target. That means that you have to select the age, social category, gender, etc. Indeed depending on the category of people, you will not talk to them in the same way or on the same platform.

Create engagement on Chinese Social Media

If you want to increase consumer awareness of your brand, you can choose to do paid advertising on social media, such as WeChat, Weibo. Because consumers now spend most of their time on these media, increasing exposure to your brand can increase awareness of your brand and interaction with consumers and can also build emotional bonds with them. But you need to be aware that the content needs to be creative, eye-catching, and emotionally resonant with your customers.

Select  the right E-commerce platforms as Sales Channel

Tmall Supermarket is a new local online retail supermarket created by Tmall Mall, which is limited to the opening of city purchases to achieve next-day delivery. Small supermarket mainly sells daily necessities and snacks. Tmall has its unique logistics system and commodity guarantee and is the platform that most consumers choose to buy snacks and trust. So if you choose this platform, you can sell your product at a low cost, and can also get rich data from your customers to analyze their behavior.

Work With The right KOL(Key Opinion Leaders)

Some Key Opinion Leaders focusing on food recommendations have considerable influence in the food industry so that there are many stores called “internet celebrities” in China now because those stores are promoted by those influential people who have publicized the stores to more consumers through word-of-mouth marketing. It is a good way to find the appropriate KOL to promote your products.

Like we mentioned earlier, you really need to work on the values and on your image. Having a Chinese name is also important besides you are already a very famous brand. Your brand needs to be trendy especially for ice cream and in order to achieve that you should work on the visual design and chose relevant forms and colors. Then you have to spread your brand as much as possible and this can get through social media advertising.

Branding is everything in China

Even if you have a physical shop you need to have a digital presence which means a website. So, people can check for your product and all your services. Especially if you are making chocolate. It is fanciful to think that you can sell your products without high-quality pictures. You need to think about the design of your website. Then you have to lead people to your website and this might be the result of a good advertisement.

E-Reputation is your Strenght

Having a good opinion from journalist also matter because they are powerful and can interfere in your reputation. Therefore we have the resources needed to build for you a solid PR strategy. We have more than 2000 journalists in our contacts. We also can furnish you with a regular detailed report about the process in order to make the adjustment. The communication will be effective because we have Chinese members in our team.

Don’t forget Dianping!

Dianping is a super platform used by Chinese citizens for locally found consumer products and retail services. They offer different kinds of services such as restaurants, hotels, cinemas, etc. Chinese users can visit the profile of the restaurants or shops that interest them, look at the menu, and photos taken by other shop’s guests. These Chinese platforms also combine a lot of activities or services for consumers. For example, e-commerce, entertainment, food, and general merchandise, are all combining into these B2C marketplaces.

Gentlemen Marketing Agency

Do you want to succeed in China? Need a good Digital Agency to Level up your Brand in China?

Trust GMA, we are the right solution for you. Don’t hesitate anymore! Contact us for better service and great results.

Further Readings:


  • Hello,

    We are a Norwegian company, we would like to sell Norwegian cheese in China, please let us know if you are interested, we are authorized distributor.

    • Dolores Admin

      Hey Olivia,

      Thanks for your interest.
      One of our expert will contact you shortly
      Have a great day

  • Hello Tracy

    We are from Brazil and we represent some important dairy companies (Brazilians’s special cheeses, yoghurts and fermented milk.

    We are interested to export to China could yoou give me your contact please?

  • Hello,
    We are a Chinese retail new store, and we want to sell imported western Brands.
    Contact us with Brand material and pricing info.

    • todd stopa

      hello tracy my name is todd stopa from niagara falls ny united states of america if your interested in infant formula,honey,vitamins,cosmetics please contact me in america we have a huge supply of all organic products.

    • Hi Tracy,
      I add your wechat, and we put your contact in our Distributors list.

Leave your comment