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In a recent visit to two South East Asian countries in the form of Vietnam and Cambodia, it is clear that while Irish Dairy co-operative industry has opportunity in these countries, many challenges need to be addressed for help our success.

These countries have a land area less than Sweden (population 8 million), yet have a population of over 110 million, and add over another million every year.

One of the main areas to address in these markets is the almost totally different attitudes consumer dairy has in terms of how they use and view dairy product.

We would commend Bord Bia for their project to ‘get into the fridges’ of Chinese consumers, with over 300 hours of contact in 3 different sites in China. This is very welcome but is clearly only a start.

It would be akin to saying that you looked at consumers in just Dublin, Athens and Munich on the European market and then claim you know the consumer dietary habits of European dairy consumers! And this is not to mention the whole range of other counties with growing dairy product demand in the region.

ICOS has worked with the Chinese mission here in Brussels, and one of the key messages that the give us is to localise what we want to sell into the country, taking into account the highly diverse regional differences in China, and this is only one, albeit, massive country in Asia.

Co-ops have made their mark on the shelves with Friesland Campina and Fonterra products figuring prominently. But it must be noted, often with local variations and products that would be unrecognisable to us in Ireland.

Although it was heartening to find 3 different types of Kerrygold butter in a super market in Cambodia, so we are making a dent.


In terms of price, even though incomes are a fraction of Irish norms, consumer prices are very attractive, epically within the functional food brackets such as infant formula, food for older people etc.Infant Formula

It was also interesting to see in smaller shops that these types of foot were kept behind the counter, in the same may razors and batteries are at home.



The lack of a discernible appetite for consumer cheese and butter is very clear, along with the popping up of specialist ‘dairy’ stores in cities that look like pharmacies, and stock nothing but dairy products from single companies.