14 May 2014

Dairy warned on China dependency

6:56 am on 14 May 2014

A Chinese dairy analyst is warning the New Zealand dairy industry not to become too dependent on that market.

Rabobank's senior dairy and beverages analyst, Sandy Chen is visiting New Zealand to speak on key developments in the Chinese dairy sector and the implications for New Zealand dairy farmers.

Nutricia infant milk formula on sale in Beijing. Its manufacturer Danone is suing Fonterra over loss of sales due to the botulism scare.

Danone's Nutricia infant milk formula on sale in Beijing. Photo: RNZ / Demelza Leslie

Mr Chen who's based in Shanghai, said 90 percent of China's milk powder imports came from New Zealand last year and China took about 40 percent of this country's dairy exports.

He said China would like to reduce that level of dependence on a single country and New Zealand needs to be aware of that.

"From a China perspective, there is a wish from the local industry to find alternative sources to at least diversify away from New Zealand, but given how dominant New Zealand is in the trade relationship with China with regard to dairy and also the familiarity of the local industry with New Zealand product, it's actually not an easy task."

"And from New Zealand's perspective, I think since China represents about 40 percent of New Zealand dairy exports, there is also a significant concentration risk from this one country and I think in New Zealand they also want to look at other destinations."

Sandy Chen said China was expanding its own dairy production but would still need imports to bridge the gap between supply and demand.