The market in China for dairy goods in growing and the country is becoming "big business" for dairy exporters in New Zealand, who supply roughly a third of China's dairy imports.

There is no history in China of milk-based foods, yet during the last ten years, the trend for dairy consumption has risen dramatically and the New Zealand Dairy Board (NZDB) has witnessed sales to the country, including Hong Kong, rise by over 400% to over US$127m. 
The sales figures are likely to increase further with the NZDB's purchase of a 25% in Australian dairy company Bonlac, approved by the firms farmer shareholders last month. Under the terms of the merger deal, NZDB will take over the marketing of Bonlac's products that are sold internationally. 

Neville Martin, spokesman for the Bonlac board, said: "China is becoming big business for us." He added that prospects for further growth are excellent: "Their food market is growing at 12 per cent - but their consumption of dairy goods is rising even faster at 15 per cent a year."

"Such food was never part of the Chinese diet. But changes are occurring so quickly in China that it is fuelling demand for Western style foods," he explained.