CHINA – Gen Z consumers, those born between 1995 and 2009, are leading the trend in dairy product consumption in China, focusing on the nutritional content, source areas, and environmentally friendly packaging, a new report reveals.

According to a survey by the China Dairy Industry Association and Royal FrieslandCampina, the largest dairy firm in the Netherlands, Gen Z consumers in China are driving the demand for high-quality and functional dairy products.

These young consumers prioritize the nutritional content, source areas, and environmentally friendly packaging of dairy products.

The report highlights that more than 90% of Gen Z parents emphasize scientific feeding, showing concern for the nutritional composition of infant formula.

The milk quotient of Chinese consumers, an indicator system launched in 2018 to measure awareness, knowledge, and behavior regarding dairy consumption, reached 66.8 points out of 100 this year—the highest since the survey began.

“The continuous improvement of the milk quotient of Chinese consumers indicates the country’s science popularization work has made positive progress, and more people have realized the importance of consuming dairy products,” Song Kungang, former chairman of the China Dairy Industry Association said.

He noted that the increasing trend led by young people requires the dairy sector to innovate and continually improve products and consumer experiences.

A 2023 survey conducted in 20 cities across China revealed that Gen Z’s daily intake of milk and milk derivatives exceeds the national average.

The report also found that 78.4% of respondents check the labels of dairy products when making purchases, looking for high nutrition, quality sources or regions, low sugar, low fat, zero additives, and organic certification.

Additionally, over half of the respondents consume milk after exercise, indicating a growing interest in functional dairy products associated with fitness.

China’s dairy consumption market has expanded steadily. In 2022, the national raw milk production volume reached 40.69 million metric tons, up 7.8% year-on-year, with continuous growth over the last five years, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Despite the growth, China’s annual dairy consumption volume remains less than one-third of the global average, presenting significant growth potential for the industry.

The Chinese Dietary Guidelines recommend adults consume 500 grams of milk or equivalent dairy products daily.

However, current consumption levels are lower, indicating a vast opportunity for growth in the dairy segment.

Leading dairy company Yili Group achieved sales revenue of RMB 123.2 billion (US$17.2 billion) in 2022, growing by 11.37%, making it one of the world’s top dairy producers.

As the dairy industry continues to grow in China, sustainability remains a crucial focus for producers and consumers.

Gen Z, known for being health-conscious and environmentally aware, is expected to drive demand for sustainable and innovative dairy products.

 “We will continue to integrate the concept of sustainable development into the entire chain of product research and development, and make more efforts to popularize scientific facts about dairy products in China,” Chen Ge, President of FrieslandCampina China, stated.

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