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Saturday, September 12, 2009

I've been posting for years of the slow insertion of milk and dairy products into Asian markets, especially China. This isn't happening accidentally. While Chinese entrepreneurs see opportunities in introducing a new, exotic, and interesting food into a historically milk-free culture, Western firms see every aspect of the huge Chinese market as potential for exploitation. Consider that the middle-class population of China, although still a small percentage, is numerically larger than that of the U.S. or the EU.

A transcript of a broadcast by BBC World Service correspondent Mukul Devichand told of the very modern means by which dairy is being introduced.

At a Chinese radio station, on-air personalities tout the virtues of pairing the proper wines with the proper cheese, eating pasta and enjoying a good cigar.

British, French and Portuguese foodies are pushing gastronomy and fine dining to a remarkable new class of Chinese citizens.

The problem is, parmesan, cheddar and brie are pretty alien to the Chinese palate. Despite over 3000 years of Chinese fine dining, it's only from the 20th century that dairy products were really consumed in China -- many there remain lactose intolerant.

The solution for European marketers is to educate Chinese consumers.

And one way is to make the new seem less so by associating it with a familiar product.

So at seminars, the Chinese are taught to think of cheese as a new kind of... tofu.

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