Cheese Imports in China

06 April 2018

Bowei Gong, Shanghai Office, Bord Bia - Irish Food Board

Cheese in China heavily relies on imports


  • Though some processed cheese slices and specific regional offering (in Tibet and Northwest region) are available from domestic suppliers, many cheese varieties in China have to be imported. Current cheese brands in China are dominated by foreign firms and joint ventures. Domestic cheese firms are scattered and have limited product variety, stemming from a lack of tradition in cheese consumption and manufacturing.
  • Cheese imports in China amounted to 107,271 tonnes in 2017, and have increased at 17.6% CAGR since 2014. According to Chinese customs data, fresh cheese and grated or powdered cheese lead the robust growth with CAGRs of 29.8% and 29.7% respectively.
  • Mozzarella is the major cheese consumed in the Chinese market. Regarding cheese imports, mozzarella accounts for 40% import volume, followed by cream cheese (23%), and cheddar (13%).

Cheese Imports in China

New Zealand is the biggest cheese supplier


  • 2017 data shows that top three cheese exporters to China are New Zealand (55,329 tonnes), Australia (20,012 tonnes), and United States (12,841 tonnes).
  • New Zealand’s cheese performs strongly across overall categories. It is also the largest supplier of mozzarella and cream cheese.
  • Australia posts large volumes in fresh cheese and processed cheese, but not grated or powdered cheese.
  • The States is strong in grated and powdered cheese.


Cheese prospects in the Chinese market


  • With the positive trend of pizza consumption in China, mozzarella will retain its leading position over the next five years. Fonterra, the biggest cheese player in the market, established a new mozzarella plant in Australia in 2017, aiming to increase its supply to China.
  • The growth in demand for cream cheese owes itself to a booming bakery sector and surging trend for tea macchiato. Tea macchiato, which is topped by a mixture of cream cheese and whipping cream, is extremely popular across the Asia Pacific region.
  • Processed cheese is currently dominant in retail and there is significant growth potential for cheese snacks targeting for both kids and young adults.

Cheese Imports in China

For more information please contact