In China, fast growing goat dairy sector is gaining experiences from cattle dairy models

In the world, cow dairy plays an important role for human food. However, goat dairy developed rapidly in the past decades worldwide, as well as in China. This article focuses on the sectoral information of milk goat farm and goat dairy in China, including statistics, market demands and business opportunities.

Goat milk is getting more popular

In the world, cow dairy plays an important role for human food. However, there are also several other dairy options, such as yak, goat, sheep, and camel milk. Goat dairy increased rapidly in the past decades. By 2017, the number of milk goat, as well as goat dairy products, nearly tripled in comparison with 45 years ago. More than half of the productions came from Asia. The similar growth happened in China, the heads of milk goat increased from 5.5 million in 2008 to more than 6 million by 2018.

Goat Cheese
Beeld: ©PDPhotos by Pixabay
Goat cheese

Why is goat dairy getting popular?

  1. Goat milk contains higher protein, and the protein composition is closer to breast milk if we compare it with cattle milk. Moreover, higher contents of calcium brings good supplement on nutrition.
  2. Fat in goat milk is easier to digest and use for energy, and less accumulation, preventing infantile constipation, improving calcium absorption, helpful to keep cardiovascular health, and good for growth of intestinal bifidobacteria (good probiotics).

3.  Lower allergic risk caused by goat milk, as well as low risk of lactose intolerance, which happens on a big group of Chinese consumers.

The most important countries for goat milk production worldwide currently are India, Bangladesh and Pakistan in Asia; Spain, France and Greece in Europe; Sudan in Africa. China is still relatively small on goat milk productions.

The biggest producer of goat dairy in China: Shaanxi province

During April 11-13, West China Animal Husbandry Expo was held in Yangling Agricultural High-Tech Demonstration Zone, in Shaanxi Province. It included an important session, China Milk Goat Industry Conference, with a focus on communications of goat dairy sector. This article is based on information gathered during the Expo and is meant to clarify the situation in Chinese goat dairy sector.

In China, Shaanxi province is the biggest keeper of milk goats and biggest producer of goat dairy products, as well as taking the biggest market share in China. Some data about Shaanxi goat dairy sector in 2018.



% of China

Milk goats in stock

2.4 mln heads


Raw goat milk production

600 thousand tons


Production of processed goat dairy

98 thousand tons


  • Milk powder production
  • 83 thousand tons
  • 82%
  • Liquid milk products
  • 15 thousand tons
  • 95%
2019 China Milk Goat Industrial Exhibition
2019 West China Animal Husbandry Expo & China Milk Goat Industrial Conference

The turnover of Shaanxi goat dairy business was 6 billion RMB in 2018, and their goat dairy products in total take a market share of 80% in China. Scoping into specific categories, 90% of Chinese goat milk powder market is covered by Shaanxi, and nearly 95% of Chinese market on goat dairy infant formula.

So far the Chinese goat dairy market value is less than 40 billion RMB (nearly 5.1 bln EUR). With the fast growth of the market, the estimated market size for goat dairy is 200 billion RMB if it goes saturated. Shaanxi is

Goat dairy products on exhibition
Goat dairy products on 2019 exhibition

aiming to develop their goat dairy sectoral value by keeping 5 million milk goats and producing 1.2 million goat milk in 2025, with the support and encouragement from government.

There are more than 30 Chinese companies doing goat dairy processing business in domestic market, and 24 of them are located in Shaanxi. Besides Shaanxi province, the milk goat sector can also be found in Shandong, Henan, Yunnan, Shanxi, Liaoning, and Gansu provinces.

The big players with the goat dairy sector are:

  • Xi’an Baiyue Goat Dairy Group  (biggest goat dairy company in China, with yearly turnover nearly 2 billion RMB),
  • Shandong Yangchun Dairy  (yearly turnover around 500 million RMB)
  • Heilongjiang Feihe Dairy
  • Shaanxi Herds Dairy Group
  • Shaanxi Hongxing Meiling Dairy
  • Shaanxi Qinlong Dairy
  • Shaanxi Youlishi Dairy Group
  • Shaanxi Shengfei Dairy Group

Demands and opportunities

In China, milk goat farms are transforming from family-hood small scale husbandry into standardized bigger scale farms. Many farms have more than 100 heads, and the sector is developing fast, more and more farms have 1,000-10,000 heads. In 2017 in Shaanxi province, 1019 farms had more than 100 heads of milk goats, 98 farms more than 500 heads, and 32 farms had more than 1,000 heads.

The current development progress of the goat dairy sector in China have been viewed at the same way as the Chinese cow dairy supply chain some 10 years ago. By seeking the ways of developing goat dairy value chain in Chinese market, Chinese entrepreneurs are using the cow dairy sector as an example, and learning from those expereinces. At the same time they are looking for advanced experiences and technologies from overseas. The demands by the sector in China provide opportunities for Dutch companies who are involved in this business. 

Goat milking
Beeld: ©Jason Gold by Pixabay

These opportunities are listed in the 7 bullet points below.

  1. Good breeds to improve the performance of milking goats, with higher milk productions, better resistance to diseases, and etc. Subsidy is available for importing goats with good genetic resources. If there is any successful export of milk goats to Spain/France from Dutch breeders, it will be very attractive to Chinese counterparts too.

2.  Advanced mating technology is important to achieve higher efficiency and pregnancy results.

3.  Frozen semen of milk goat should be also very interesting for Chinese sector, for the same aim on improving the milk production.

4.  Modern farm system definitely has a great chance, for machinery, tools, technologies, and even design on high efficiency and hygiene farms. Depends on the development of more big animal farms, the automation systems becoming attractive for stakeholders, to lower the risks of diseases and higher production in good quality. For example, feeding and milking machines, veterinary medicine, cleaning machine and tools, ventilation, manure treatment and management skills.

5.  Chinese entrepreneurs put their attention onto developing of new goat dairy products suitable for the Chinese market, for example cheese products. Moreover, processing technology and packaging system are an also interesting parts of the chain, in order to make the dairy products successful in the retailing market. Sharing knowledge on goat dairy processing technology in order to increase the profitability would be highly preferred in Sino-Dutch cooperation.

6.  The export of goat dairy products might be also interesting, both for retailing products and processing materials supply. According to the image of safe food produced in European countries, Chinese consumers trust imported products for better quality, health and safety. On the other hand, some Chinese companies also use imported milk powder as bases for processing, because of price differences and unique products not supplying in China.

7.  Cold storage and logistics technologies are also interesting for goat dairy supply chain.

Dutch exhibitor
One Dutch company participated the 2019 West China Animal Husbandry Expo

Landbouwteam China


Information Resources:
Presentation delivered by Mr. NING Dianlin, deputy Director General of Shaanxi Provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs;
Presentation delivered by Prof. CAO Binyun, Chairman of International Milk Goat Association, Professor of Northwest Agriculture & Forestry University;
Presentation delivered by Prof. Christopher Lu, Professor of University of Wisconsin System, Professor of Hawaii;
Presentation delivered by Mr. David Reed, General Manager Air-cargo of Austrex (Australian Rural Product Export);
Information showed on Shaanxi Goat Dairy Pavilion.