Consumers in China looking for an original gift for friends and family at Chinese New Year on January 28 need look no further - New Zealand organic milk.
Earlier this month Anchor launched its first certified organic UHT milk in China.
NaturalUp, made in Fonterra’s Waitoa UHT plant in the Waikato, isn’t sold in your average Kiwi two-litre plastic bottle, but in gift packs made up of 10 x 250ml Tetra Pac cartons.
The product doesn’t have your average milk-in-the-supermarket price tag either. The 10-pack will cost 79 yuan ($NZ16), says Shanghai-based Anchor senior brand manager Hower Ji. That is 20% more than Anchor’s non-organic milk, and about a day’s wages for the average Chinese worker. Hower says NaturalUp isn’t the most expensive imported organic UHT product on the market, but is a high-value dairy item.
“We treat the organic category as the ultra-premium tier and it is seen as high nutrition dairy in China. Organic stands for a higher standard of lifestyle for Chinese consumers, who are looking for better quality and safer products for their family.”
Hower says Anchor is marketing the organic milk as a healthy drink, but also as a potential gift product. It’s not unusual for Chinese people to hand out nourishing foods, vitamins or health supplements as presents at Chinese New Year - ginseng, herbal teas or even multivitamins. Why not NaturalUp milk?
Hower says the organic market is growing rapidly in China.
“The total organic category increased 76% between 2014 and 2015, according to Kantar Worldpanel consumer research figures, while the premium white milk category was up only 13%. Penetration of organic milk increased by 16%-25% from 2014-2015, which indicates this category has been gaining acceptance from Chinese consumers, although the market is still small.’’
In East China alone, for example, the value of organic milk sales doubled between 2013 and 2015, Hower says.
Meanwhile, Lincoln University research found 33% of Chinese respondents saw organic production as being “very important” and a further 48% thought it was “important”, according to OANZ’s 2016 Market Report. This is a far higher percentage than in many developed countries, due largely to a long-standing Chinese belief in “medicinal foods”, and recent food safety scandals in China, which have rocked confidence in non-certified products.
Hower Ji says limited production volumes means NaturalUp will mostly be sold through e-commerce sites. Buying your dairy products online might seem weird to New Zealanders, but it’s not unusual in China, he says. And UHT is more popular than fresh milk because of its longer shelf life.
“UHT is the main way for Chinese consumers to get their milk and Anchor has high recognition in China as a leading New Zealand brand producing high quality dairy products. NaturalUp will meet Chinese consumers’ increasing needs for high quality dairy nutrition.”