China has temporarily halted imports of certain European soft cheese such as Brie, Camembert, Epoisses, Bleu, Fourme d’Ambert and Roquefort, industry insiders told the Global Times. In the wake of the suspension, the Global Times visited international supermarkets in Beijing and spoke with consumers, company representatives and analysts to figure out the reasons behind the import halt as well as its potential market impact…Full Article: The Global Times Sept 2017

Key Points

  • According a manager at an April Gourmet (Beijing-based imported food supermarket), the Chinese import ban on European soft cheese began two to three months ago (June/July 2017), though retailers were allowed to sell their inventory stock. A Jenny Lou’s (expat focused) store in Chaoyang District, Beijing, was stocked with mozzarella (soft cheese), cheddar, comté and manchego (all hard cheeses), though brie and camembert were absent.
  • In 2016, China imported more than USD 400 million worth of cheese.

ChinaAg Comments

  • Shanghai is a major Chinese importer of European soft cheese. The temporary ban primarily impacts French and Italian supply of roquefort, brie, camembert, and gorgonzola.
  • From 2015 to 2016, Chinese cheese imports increased from 91,166 MTs to 114,122 MTs. New Zealand, Australia, the USA, France, Italy, and Denmark were the top cheese suppliers to China.
  • As of early 2016, Jenny Lou’s (founded in 1989) managed eight high-end Beijing supermarkets that sold Western products at a price premium. In Beijing, the districts of Chaoyang and Shunyi have the largest communities of Western expatriates.
  • In 2016, according to Fonterra’s managing director in China, mozzarella sales in China increased by 66%. In December 2016, Fonterra announced it was constructing a mozzarella factory in Clandeboye, South Island. Mozzarella exports from the factory were expected to begin in September 2018.
  • In May 2014, China temporarily banned British cheese due to food safety concerns.
  • In December 2012, a representative from the Chinese e-commerce platform, Taobao.com, noted that New Zealand-produced mozzarella and cream cheese were its most popular cheese products.
  • In March 2008, China temporarily banned Italian mozzarella cheese over food safety (dioxins) concerns.

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