Chinese and U.S. regulators have finally approved a dairy certificate, ensuring that the flow of U.S. dairy goods into the largest dairy importer in the world continues unabated. Exports of U.S. dairy products to China are a $400 million market annually.

U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) staff worked closely with Chinese officials and a U.S. inter-agency regulatory team to secure this particular deal. USDEC officials expect U.S. dairy export value to China could more than double by 2017.

The issue dates back to early 2010; China revised its dairy certificate as part of the nation’s sweeping efforts to upgrade domestic food safety. And although the market remained open during negotiations, USDEC estimates the uncertainty of the certificate situation depressed U.S. dairy ingredient sales by 5-10 percent and cheese sales by as much as 50 percent. The impact was considerably greater in the case of cheese given the foodservice industry’s need for consistent supply and more limited interchangeability of cheeses, USDEC officials note. Now, it’s full steam ahead, they add.