US companies and dairy industry representatives are sending delegations to China to boost trade following the melamine scare which has led to an increase in demand for alternative milk sources.
The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) said that key members of the executive team and several industry partners, including the Great Lakes Cheese Company and Land O'Lakes, are travelling to China to investigate and promote trade opportunities.
The move follows the deaths of four infants in China linked to consuming baby milk contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine, which can be used to boost the apparent protein content. About 54,000 children were sickened with kidney stones and other renal failure.
The fall-out from the melamine crisis has prompted manufacturers to be super careful about sourcing safe ingredients on the domestic front, but companies are also seeing opportunities to step up marketing of their dairy or dairy replacement products in China.
CMAB said in a statement: “This trade mission is extremely well timed to take advantage of heightened opportunities to open up new export avenues for California’s productive dairy industry and to meet China’s growing demand for safe and reliable dairy products.”
David Freedheim, sales consultant for the CMAB, added: “California currently exports a number of dairy products to China including butter, mozzarella cheese for pizza and specialty cheeses and commodity cheeses.
“This kind of business could expand dramatically in the years ahead.”
The CMAB boasts that California’s dairy industry thrives under stringent product safety standards and milk from California exceeds the US federal guidelines for the amounts of calcium and protein in each serving.
The eight-day mission taking place this week is designed to establish a greater understanding of the scope of the dairy industry in China and help facilitate business deals that will initiate and expand additional trade options.
The CMAB represents the state’s dairy products. It is part of the California Department of Food and Agriculture and is funded by the state’s 2,000 dairy families.
Other companies seeing opportunities on the back of the melamine scare include US-based health and wellness company, ISI Brands/Twinlab, which last month said it will be introducing a new soy protein drink supplement to China as an alternative to Chinese dairy products.