China's dairy production will rise sharply in the next decade, according to an industry expert quoted by the China Daily newspaper.

China produces 16.25 million tonnes of dairy products a year, the China Daily website said. By 2015 that total could reach 25 million tonnes, according to Wang Huaibao, vice-director of the China Association of Dairy Products Industry.

The cost of production of fresh milk in China was 45% less than in the United States or the European Union in 2000, the most recent year for which figures are available, he said.

He expected China's dairy product consumption to rise to 18 kilogrammes a head in 2015, from the current level of 13 kilogrammes a year. That compared with a world average of 100 kilogrammes, the paper said. "There's massive potential in the Chinese market," Wang said. But he warned that it would take a change in attitudes to dairy products. "We have to remember that many people in China are not yet ready to include milk in their diet," he said. "Most of the country's 9 million farmers never drink any because they don't like it or can't afford it."