Between 2008 and 2013, the volume of cheese imported to China has grown of 28 cent every year. In those five years, the country has gone from being the 16th largest cheese market importer in the world to the 8th. The total in China reached a volume of 47,316 tons in 2013 according to the National Interprofessional Centre of the Dairy Economy.
The Cheese market in Shanghai is almost only targeting specific expatriate consumers. It is nearly impossible to find cheese in small stores, and 94% of the imported cheese market is sold through large international supermarkets and hypermarkets. Moreover imported cheese is more and more present in hotels and upscale restaurants targeting expatriates.
The cheese market offer in China is limited and is mainly represented by the process cheese resulting from a melted mixture of natural cheeses. Natural cheeses produced from fermentation of milk are a more difficult to find and practice very high prices.
The cheese market should overcome cultural barriers in China
The attractiveness of the Chinese market as a large consumer of cheese is enforced by the lack of Chinese cheese producers, enabling international companies to shape the market. Despite France being the largest producer of cheese in the world, France only accounts for 4% of the current market share. New Zealand, Australia and the U.S. are the largest exporters of cheese in China.
The leading player in the cheese market is Bongrain (Tianjin) Foods Co Ltd with 21 % retail value share in 2014. However the market leader, based in Shanghai, is Bright Dairy & Food which holds 50% of market share of cheese, with its successful Baby Cheese offer.
Shanghai is for many year the leading power of China economic and trade development. International trade of goods is facilitated in Shanghai, enabling the city to discover new products at an earlier stage; it includes the cheese market implementation.
Therefore, the analysis of the inhabitant trends can give an idea of the future acceptation from the rest of the country’s consumers. Shanghai Roria, a European food importer offered tastings of various French, Italian and Spanish cheeses in Shanghai. And with no surprise the rate of satisfaction toward the strong blue cheese was extremely low, as only 30% said it was amazingly good. Unlike in western countries, a lot of Chinese consumers have never tried Cheese and have an image of a bad smell; this is illustrated very well by the Chinese word for cheese “nailao” (奶酪), meaning “milk jelly”.
Why Cheese market in Shanghai can lead the way
In Shanghai, people enjoy experiencing new products and discovering new tastes from imported products. For foreign companies, educating and changing consumer tastes represents a real challenge. That’s why firms such as Bongrain Food preferred other strategies to enter into the Chinese market, by adapting to the market and introducing tailored products according to Chinese tastes. Thus their products have already seen 50 new varieties. In Shanghai, the most famous cheese brands are cheese snacks for children such as Stick Cheese, Kiddy Cheese and Small Triangle Cheese. Those may represent the beginning of the Chinese adaptation to the taste of cheese; especially by going through new Chinese youth.
In the nearly past, Cheese was strictly considered as luxury food. But with the rise of consumer awareness of the nutritious benefits of the product due to exposure to western culture and style in large international cities such as Shanghai, parents have started to buy cheese snacks for their children. Typical families believe that the presence of calcium in cheese will support vital functions in the growth of children.
Another sign of the increasing popularity of the cheese market in Shanghai is the recent apparition of traditional cheese makers in the streets. La Parisienne and La Fromaggeria, for example, offer both decent array of cheese right in the centre of Shanghai. A wide range of cheese can be found on the Internet to and deliver high-quality cheese in China quickly.
Also there is an increasing amount of tasting events held in Shanghai and will get more Chinese consumers to try cheese for the first.
Daxue Consulting Expertise
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