Valio Winning Over Chinese Consumers

CHINA - Finnish dairy manufacturer diversifies into local retail market, offering lactose-free, localized products.
calendar icon 3 August 2018
clock icon 2 minute read

First tapping into the Chinese market 32 years ago, Finland's largest dairy company, Valio Ltd, has kept a low profile in the country in recent decades, preferring to team up with leading local players, such as Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group Co Ltd.

However, the Finnish giant recently launched a transformation initiative in the country, opening its China headquarters in Shanghai in May to connect with Chinese consumers directly.

Established in 1905, Valio is the only dairy company to be related to a Nobel Prize in chemistry. Its then laboratory director Artturi Ilmari Virtanen received the prize in 1945 "for his research and inventions in agricultural and nutrition chemistry".

The company's emphasis on research and development, as manifested by its 113-year-old lab, has helped it to release new products to address people's digestive problems, such as lactose intolerance.

To Annikka Susanna Hurme, who has been Valio's CEO since October 2014, the company's lactose-free products could unlock the large potential of the Chinese market, since 80 percent of the population has difficulties absorbing lactose.

Ongoing consumption upgrades in China - which mean consumers are attaching greater importance to green, healthy and traceable food - will provide ample growth opportunities for Valio.

According to global market research company Euromonitor International, the market value of the Chinese dairy industry hit 376 billion yuan ($55.2 billion; 47.3 billion euros; £42.1 billion) last year. It projects the number will top 484 billion yuan in 2022.

In an exclusive interview with China Daily, Ms Hurme talks about her hopes for the Chinese market and her experiences at Valio.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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