The unstoppable rise of Italian cheeses in China

Italy is the second European supplier of cheese for the Chinese market: in the last 10 years exports grew by +850%
The unstoppable rise of Italian cheeses in China

In 2015 the value of Italian cheeses exports to China was just over one million euros. Last year it almost reached the target of 20 million euros, exceeding 3,800 tons, and in the first 7 months of 2020 exports increased further (+3.6% in value and +8.3% in volume) despite the global pandemic.

Italian dairy exports to China in 2019

3,829,248 tons+5.9% on 2018
19,708,341 €+8.2% on 2018
Source: Assolatte

Italian dairy exports to China in 2020 (Jan-Jul)

2,182,204 tons+8.3% on 2019
10,808,942 €+3.6% on 2019
Source: Assolatte

Growth margins are still wide, since the Asian giant absorbs only 2% of Italy’s non-EU exports. All this according to Italy’s dairy producers association Assolatte, that has just started a three-year promotional campaign in China. The campaign, launched at FHC 2020 in Shanghai, is aimed at many different targets (trade, consumers and media) and will raise awareness among importers, with seminars, B2B workshops, and incoming Chinese operators at some Italian dairy companies.

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As part of the campaign’s inauguration, there was a guided tasting of some of the best Italian dairy products. It was guided by the executive restaurant chef of the Bellagio in Shanghai, Giulioantonio Di Sabato.

Italian cheese-Italian dairy-Made in Italy-tasting-Assolatte-China-Shanghai-FHC 2020
Italian cheeses-Italian dairy-Made in Italy-China-Shanghai-FHC 2020
Italian cheeses-Italian dairy-Made in Italy-China-Shanghai-FHC 2020
Italian cheeses-Italian dairy-Made in Italy-China-Shanghai-FHC 2020

Over 20 companies associated with Assolatte participated in the event with their products. The tasting focused on Italian dairy masterpieces: Pecorino Romano PDO, Mozzarella PDO, Mozzarella di Bufala Campana PDO, Gorgonzola PDO, Parmigiano Reggiano PDO and Grana Padano PDO, Provolone Valpadana PDO, Ricotta Romana PDO, Piave PDO, and Mascarpone. Without forgetting milk and yoghurt, both very appreciated in China.


The Chinese government is strengthening relations with Europe through the EU-China 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation. In fact this tool allows to share development plans and strengthen commercial cooperation with a progressive standardization of access procedures and a sharing of e-commerce regulatory aspects.

A chapter of the agenda is decisive for Italian companies. It concerns the protection of Geographical Indications, which is necessary to fight counterfeiting of Made in Italy products. “We have many expectations, and we positively evaluate the EU-China agreement on the protection of Geographical Indications which will be voted by the European Parliament in these days” – says the president of Assolatte, Paolo Zanetti.

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