European dairy firm seeks to tap into China UHT milk growth with Alibaba deal

By Lester Wan

- Last updated on GMT

China’s UHT milk imports increased almost six-fold in the past four years. ©iStock
China’s UHT milk imports increased almost six-fold in the past four years. ©iStock

Related tags Milk

China’s UHT milk imports have increased almost six-fold in the last four years, leading to Italian firm Centrale del Latte d’Italia (CLI) Group sealing a deal with Alibaba to boost its sales in the country.

The UHT mark grew by 36.5% between 2015 and 2016 alone, said CLI chairman Luigi Luzzati.

“These increases are due to an increasing demand from Chinese consumers for safe, quality food products,”​ said Luzzati.

“The  partnership  with  Alibaba  is  a  major  opportunity  for  our  growth. We believe our products and our brands are fully able to satisfy these demands.”

Rodrigo Cipriani Foresio, managing director, Southern Europe, Alibaba Group, said, “Milk is one of the top-selling product categories on our platforms; during our Singles Day, for example, over 10 million litres of milk were sold in the space of just 24 hours.”

CLI’s milk will now be sold through Alibaba’s Tmall site, the largest B2C Chinese e-commerce platform of Alibaba, opening the door to a potential market of over 460 million active consumers a year.

Chinese consumers will be able to buy Mukki brand long-life milk — UHT milk with a shelf life of 300 days — available in 200ml and 1L packs.

CLI’s exports to China began in 2014 under Centrale del Latte di Torino, with its first shipments of UHT milk and soya products through traditional distribution channels.

It was only slightly over a year ago that Italian dairy groups Centrale del Latte di Torino and Centrale del Latte di Firenze, Pistoia e Livorno, better known as Mukki, merged. The terms of the deal had only recently been completed, with the name change to CLI.

The CLI Group produces and sells milk, milk products, yogurt, drinks of plant origin and fresh salads.

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