Got milk? Chinese dairy demand helps the sweet, wholesome cream rise to the top

Milk prices are soaring thanks to a rise in Chinese dairy consumption.


November 6, 2019

Despite plant-based milk alternatives doing their best to curdle the dairy industry, milk prices are actually on the ups around the world.

And, as The Wall Street Journal reports, it has something to do with a little East Asian country whose name rhymes with angina.

While dairy has never traditionally been a go-to for Chinese paletes (people who descend from East Asian communities are heavily affected by adult lactose intolerance), a recent influx of milk, cream, and cheese is adding a whole new pizazz to Chinese cuisine.

Cream cheese tea… uhhh, yum?

Wholesale skim-milk and whole-milk powder prices have both risen toward the top as a spike in consumer demand has Chinese culinary establishments adding a new (hopefully) fresh take to classic goodies — like salted duck-egg yolk. This time adorned with cream. 

Skim-milk powder prices have increased by 26% to 47% across the US, Europe, and Oceania over the past year. According to the US Dairy Export Council, the average price in those 3 areas hit over $2.5k per metric ton in October — the highest average since October 2014.

Let’s not forget New Zealand

New Zealand-based Fonterra Dairy — the world’s largest dairy exporter — is really capitalizing on China’s coup for cream (China is one of Fonterra’s biggest customers). 

In October, the co-op said it’s selling skim-milk powder at even higher markups than companies in the US and Europe, and soon expects whole-milk powder sales to rise as well.

The US hasn’t profited as much off China’s dairy addiction as they have benefited from dairy consumption in other parts of Asia. But, according to the WSJ, European farms are on pace to produce less skim milk in 2020, which could present even moo’re dairy opportunities for the US (milked it).

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