BEIJING, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese agricultural official said Wednesday that China should encourage growth in the cheese market to develop its milk industry.
"Efforts should be made to develop dry dairy products like cheese to improve milk product structure and boost the milk industry," Vice Agriculture Minister Yu Kangzhen said.
Yu was in Beijing speaking at an event to encourage cheese consumption in schools.
"Despite steady growth in milk product consumption, China's milk industry still faces issues like structural supply-demand imbalance and weak competitiveness," Yu said.
China's per capita cheese consumption remains around 0.1 kg each year, far lower than the global average of 2.6 kg, according to the Dairy Association of China.
Chang Yi, chairman of Beijing Sanyuan Food, said at the event that China's cheese consumption could grow by more than ten-fold in future, and that he expected the cheese industry to maintain annual growth of 20 percent in the next five years.
The country produced 37.12 million tonnes of milk and 29.93 million tonnes of dairy products last year, ranking third after the United States and India, according to the association.