Chinese milk consumption low
Updated: 2006-08-26 10:51

A survey by the Ministry of Agriculture shows China's per capita milk consumption is only 21.7 kilograms, a fifth of the world average, the People's Daily reported on Thursday.

"Chinese babies up to 12 months old are the same as Western babies in terms of health, but grow slower thereafter, especially during adolescence," the newspaper quoted the survey as saying.

Many Chinese considered milk a kind of breast-feeding supplement for babies, and adults regarded drinking milk as childish, ignoring its nutritional value, said the newspaper.

Experts have urged the public to "drink milk for a lifetime", saying the World Trade Organization measured a country's living standard by per capita milk consumption.
"Dairy foods, like breast milk, are nutritionally rich and have various vitamins that can be easily absorbed," the newspaper quoted an expert as saying.

China's total output of milk was 28.65 million tons in 2005, and it is expected to be the third highest globally in 2020 with more than 50 million tons or 40 kilograms per capita, according to the Dairy Association of China.

In April, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao wrote when visiting a dairy farm in the southwestern municipality of Chongqing, "I have a dream to provide every Chinese, especially children, sufficient milk each day."

But China still suffers from imbalanced milk consumption with urban per-capita consumption at 24.8 kilograms compared with two kilograms in rural areas.

The Dairy Association of China is piloting a "free milk" plan in 8,862 primary and middle schools of 52 cities nationwide, covering more than 1.9 million students.

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