An increased demand for pizza is accelerating the global production of mozzarella, which is the largest, fastest growing segment and most globally widespread cheese type, accounting for 25% of cheese produced globally.
According to Bloomberg, it is estimated to reach US$88.85bn by 2027, primarily driven by the food service industry. The highly developed markets of Western Europe and North America dominate with over 70% of mozzarella cheese sales. Now it is those milk deficit countries that are leading the biggest increases in mozzarella demand. The Asia/Pacific region is forecasting consumption growth of 3.8% (during 2018-2023) between the region's three leading importers of mozzarella: Japan, South Korea and China.
Collectively it is forecast that the three leading Asian countries will import over 200,000 t of industrial mozzarella in 2023, as consumers are moving to a more western diet, thanks to their increasing wealth. Japan is currently the largest consumer of mozzarella in Asia and with limited capacity to produce cheese for itself, import demand is forecast to reach 96,600 t of mozzarella by 2023.
China will soon overtake South Korea to be the second-largest importer in the world, behind Japan. Again, the Chinese market, largely driven by pizza consumption, has its origins from the expansion of US pizza chain Pizza Hut. China imported 63,200 t in 2018 and it is forecast to increase to 82,400 t at least by 2023.
With the US pizza chains leading the expansion, the cheese offering on pizzas has tended to follow the US trend which is different from Italian fresh mozzarella trend.
It is important to note that these forecasts were prepared before COVID. Now foodservice has been hit heavily and gone through a major dip, but delivery services direct to consumers have mitigated to an extent in various markets. In spite of COVID unpredictability, the factors driving demand for dairy produce in Asia remain robust. The populations in Asia are growing, urbanising and demanding high quality and safe foods. The mozzarella cheese market in Asia will continue to deliver high growth in the long term for sure.