Coronavirus global crisis: what will happen to Italian cheese exports?

Coronavirus global crisis: what will happen to Italian cheese exports? According to Assolatte, the risk is that decades of investment and efforts by companies will be wiped out

The coronavirus outbreak isn’t stopping. In the long run the problem risks shifting from health to economy. With very serious consequences, given China’s leading role in world economy. According to Italy’s dairy producers association Assolatte, Italian dairy products could also be heavily penalized.

In fact, China represent 17% of the world’s GDP and is also the top importer of food products from all over the world, including Italy. Its ‘hunger’ is growing significantly year after year: in 2019 alone, food imports increased by 12% compared to 2018.

Today we have to face a global health emergency for which it is essential to concentrate all our energies – underlines Giuseppe Ambrosi, president of Assolatte -. As entrepreneurs, we must make our first assessments on the probable impact of this epidemic on international trade, especially in a context already characterized by tensions between the major world players.”


The problem in China is mostly about the supply of raw materials, according to Italian dairy producers. Chinese logistics are paralyzed: in some areas of the country the circulation has been limited and several sea ports are slowing down their loading and unloading activities due to lack of means and personnel.

The consequences could soon affect also the dairy sector, for which China has so far represented a market with great potentialAmbrosi says -. Chinese consumers are becoming increasingly interested in our products, and in recent years Italian dairy exports to China have grown exponentially.”

According to Assolatte’s data, in 2019 sales of Italian cheese and milk in China reached 25 million euros: twice as much as in 2015 and more than 10 times more than in 2010. Over the last decade the export sales rate has been ooutstanding: between 2010 and 2019 the average annual growth rate was 38.7%.


Many Italian fresh cheeses are currently exported to China (about 70% of total dairy exports), but there is ample room for all the other Italian dairy products as well. China is in fact an over 1 billion consumers market, more and more attentive to quality and interested in Made in Italy products, starting from excellent PDO cheeses.

The great Italian PDO cheeses have been recently involved in a strategic trade agreement, signed in November 2019 by the EU and China to protect them on the Chinese market as well.

At the moment it is difficult to assess the impact of the epidemic on trade with ChinaAmbrosi says – but it is likely that the emergency will slow down the recent growth of this market, frustrating the investments made by our Italian dairy companies over the years”.

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