exporting dairy products to china header

Exporting dairy products to China: Key opportunities and challenges

Exporting dairy products to China

China’s dairy market is booming. With domestic dairy consumption rising and growth trends are expected to continue, the total Chinese dairy market is estimated to reach $176 billion by 2026. This boom has been driven by several factors, such as increasing per capita income, a shift towards more westernised diets, and the perception of dairy as a healthy inclusion in the diet. What was once seen as a luxury food in China has become a household staple, fuelled by China’s growing economy.

The opportunity for dairy exporters to capitalise on these trends is immense, however many exporters are overlooking key features of the market. But what are these key factors? What steps must exporters take to enter the market? And what opportunities does this market offer?

Understanding the Chinese dairy market

Major exporters and market dynamics

China is the world’s largest dairy market, and one of the world’s largest dairy consumers. Despite this, China’s dairy production is not self-sufficient, and recent years have seen their productivity decline. Additionally, past events such as the 2008 Milk Scandal have public sentiment toward domestic dairy produce. This leaves the door open to producers interested in exporting dairy products to China.

Currently, New Zealand and Australia account for almost 60 percent of dairy exports to China, spurred on by recently upgraded trade agreements. The European Union and United States make up the rest of major global exporters.

Lactose intolerance: A key issue

Approximately 92% of the Chinese adult population is lactose intolerant. This significant dietary need has been largely overlooked by major dairy exporters. Understanding this paradox and catering to lactose-free or low-lactose products can open new avenues for exporters.

Demand for Variety

With the growth in demand, China’s market has seen the successful introduction of various new dairy products like low-fat yogurts and cheese snacks. Exporters must recognise these trends and align their product offerings accordingly.

Five steps to exporting dairy products to China

In order to export dairy products to China organisations must

  1. Apply for the sanitary certificate: This process can take up to 6 months and includes facility inspections depending on the type of dairy product.
  2. Register with AQSIQ: Register as a foodstuffs exporter and dairy exporter to China, which may require further inspections.
  3. Prepare products for export: Ensure that the labelling includes all necessary information like storage conditions and ingredients list.
  4. Prepare export documents: This includes certificates, commercial invoices, customs import declaration, and quarantine reports.
  5. Customs inspection and taxes: Conclude the exporting process after the customs inspection, and pay the necessary Import Duties, Value Added Tax, and Consumption Tax.

Market opportunities

Exporting dairy products to China presents a massive market opportunity. By understanding the unique dietary needs, market trends, and following the correct exporting stages, success in China’s dairy market is achievable. The strategic move to export products to China, coupled with a focus on quality and compliance, can lead to rapid success.

At Farrelly Mitchell, our food and agribusiness experts provide a wide range of consulting services tailored to the specific needs of the agrifood industry. Whether it’s understanding the unique dietary needs of China’s dairy market or developing global sales and distribution strategies, we support our clients with clear evidence and experience-based insights.

Our industry expertise stretches across the agrifood value chain, from processing and manufacturing to foodservice and retail, providing everything from supply chain optimisation to market and financial feasibility studies. We enable clients to make informed decisions, ensuring that they stay ahead of emerging industry trends and challenges.

If you are looking for expert guidance and support, get in touch with us to learn how we can help you achieve your goals.

Download our Agribusiness Insight

Exporting dairy products to China: Key opportunities and challenges



Senior Researcher
Trending insights

✎ Subscribe today

Stay up to date with the latest agribusiness publications.

More insights

7 min read
  • CEA
  • Agtech
Vertical farming systems promise to make massive changes to global food production, however challenges remain for investors and operators. . . .
6 min read
Our agribusiness expert discuss how agribusiness marketing strategies can drive sustainability and meet consumer demand for ethical, eco-friendly, and local . . .

Subscribe to our newsletter

Receive the latest updates from the agribusiness world, including fresh insights and more, directly in your inbox.

Get in touch

Our team are ready to help you on the pathway to achieving your goals in food or agribusiness.

This form collects your name, email address and contact number so that Farrelly Mitchell can communicate with you and provide assistance. Please check our privacy policy to see how we protect and manage your submitted data.

Speak with our food & agribusiness experts

Want to call us directly? We’d love to hear from you.
Here’s how you can reach us.
Office Location
Unit 5A, Fingal Bay Business Park, Balbriggan Co. Dublin Ireland. K32 EH70