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Opportunities as China imports Cornish clotted cream

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 12, 2012

Opportunities as China imports Cornish clotted cream

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Britain is gearing up to sell Cornish clotted cream to customers in Beijing, Cheddar cheese in Nanking supermarkets and Devon yoghurt in Shanghai delis in a move which it is hoped will help fill a £1 billion hole in the UK economy.

Westcountry dairy farmers are rising to the challenge of changing palates in China where, on the back of a growing economy, there is a rapidly developing taste for more western food – including dairy.

Dairy consumption in China, which is predicted to become the world's largest economy ahead of the US by 2016, is increasing as affluent lifestyles change, and farmers are hoping to seize on this window of opportunity while domestic production cannot meet the demand.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson is spearheading the biggest-ever food trade delegation to China this week to help promote food exports.

However, Westcountry farmer co-op Arla Milk Link is well ahead of the game, already having a significant presence in the Far East.

"We have a major operation in China which is already benefiting our 1,600 farmer members," said Will Sanderson, Arla Milk Link's corporate affairs director. "We welcome the Government initiative – but we're already there in a major venture."

He added: "China is the fastest-growing dairy market in the world and has over 1.3 billion consumers. Over the past year we have made strong progress in relation to expanding our presence in this strategic growth market."

Milk Link joined with the giant Danish-based Arla co-operative earlier this year in a deal popular with its shareholder members, the majority of whom are in the South West.

Central to the company's growth in China was the signing in June of a strategic agreement with China's biggest food company, COFCO, on a co-ownership of the country's largest dairy, the Mengnui Dairy Company, Mr Sanderson added.

"This will result in our supplying European dairy products to China under the Arla brand that will reach Chinese retailers via Mengnui's distribution network," he said. "Our goal over the next few years will be to send between 600 and 800 million kilograms of milk annually to China, mainly in the form of value-added products."

In addition, Arla has now entered into a 10-year contract with Chinese food company Biostime to produce up to 20,000 tons of milk powder for the infant formula market per annum.

Mr Paterson will this week meet dairy companies, trade associations, industry experts and retailers in Shanghai.

He will also be strongly promoting tea, desserts, beer, meat, and confectionery produced by British companies.

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  • poldice  |  November 13 2012, 1:47PM

    Well its enterprising and good to know that we produce such superb quality food that appeals to foreign palates, there is already a thriving trade in live Cornish crabs which are flown out daily from Heathrow. I t would be even better if cargoes of Cornish produce could be air freighted direct from St Mawgan. Cornish spring flowers are sometimes exported to the US by the truckload again via Heathrow why could they not be handled via St Mawgan in future? I have repeatedly maintained that Cornwalls economic future lies in strong branding of its superb food produce and direct access to its most lucrative markets wherever they may be long before the current vogue, time is proving that I may have been right. It could be the start of something really big for us all.

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  • kernewekonan  |  November 12 2012, 10:11AM

    to me it is depressing. it seems that the biggest company involved is yet again foreign owned. not british and not local to the area. profits going abroad again as usual like in most other industries and services in this country.

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  • Big_Ger  |  November 12 2012, 9:43AM

    Selling milk and milk products to China? I don't know whether to be impressed or depressed!

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