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Dairy firms must improve

(China Daily)

10:39, August 30, 2011

BEIJING, Aug. 30 (Xinhuanet) -- Premier Wen Jiabao stressed on Aug 27, during his visit to a dairy company in Zhangbei county, Hebei province that China has a long-term task to develop its own dairy cattle breed, produce quality milk and dairy products and cultivate famous milk and dairy brands that not only dominate the Chinese market, but also take a lead in the world market.

China is the world's third largest milk producer, accounting for almost 6 percent of the global dairy output and it has 8 percent of world's dairy herds. But the milk output per cow in China is merely 4.6 tons a year, in contrast with 11.5 tons in Israel, 9.5 tons in Canada and 9.2 tons in the US.

Increasing production per cow is an efficient way to satisfy the growing demand from Chinese residents. The annual milk consumption per head of cattle in China is 26 kilograms, compared with the world standard of 95 kg.

However, even with such a huge potential market and the real possibility of increasing output, Chinese dairy enterprises and milk cattle raisers are still struggling to make ends meet.

Since the early 1990s several giant national dairy enterprises have emerged, but at the same time, so too have a basket of problems developed in a poorly watched market.

Before Chinese consumers are happy to pay for domestic dairy products, the Chinese dairy industry will need to take concrete actions to rebuild their reputation damaged by melamine scandals and the lowering of dairy standards in the past three years.

More importantly, the supervision authorities must function responsibly with a strictly implemented accountability system. The nonfeasance of the authorities only impairs the interests of Chinese national enterprises in the long run at the cost of people's health.

Premier Wen has clearly seen the nature of the Chinese dairy industry, saying that only when all the dairy enterprises, cattle raisers and authorities unify their actions to overcome difficulties, can China's dairy industry correct its former mistakes and move forward to a new stage of development.

Chinese agricultural authorities and enterprises should play a bigger role in introducing and hybridizing new quality breeds according to China's natural conditions and devise a far-sighted plan for future development and investment to raise the standard of domestic dairy products.

Premier Wen's words demonstrate the Chinese government's determination to resolve the dairy problem. The authorities and the dairy industry should learn the painful lessons of the past three years and do all that is necessary to produce quality milk and dairy products.

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