China’s dairy industry is still recovering from a 2008 tainted milk scandal that rocked the country, killing six infants and sickening more than 300,000.
Now, five years later, consumer trust remains scarred.
As a result, worried parents are turning to imported milk to keep their children nourished and safe.
"Food safety is not simply a food problem, it has become a social problem, or even a national image-related problem," Ning Gaoning, board chairman of the China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corp, at the Fifth China Food Safety Forum, told China Daily.
Imported milk is one of the fastest-growing categories for one of the country’s largest grocery retailers, and that trend continues for the country as well. The China Dairy Industry Association reports that in the first four months of 2013, China imported 596,200 tons of dairy products – 24.6 percent higher than 2012.
"Domestic milk consumption has been increasing for years, lifted by rising personal incomes and a soaring milk-drinking population," said Wang Dingmian, a consultant with the Guangdong Provincial Dairy Association.
The 2008 scandal involved local producers deliberately contaminating their milk with melamine to fool inspectors testing for protein content.