In an industrial kitchen in a leafy, residential suburb of central Shanghai, a quiet culinary evolution is taking place.
Beside shelves stacked with butter mounds the size of bread loaves and 11 pound (5 kilogram) cheese wheels, chefs are experimenting with exotic ingredients that their New Zealand supplier, Fonterra Cooperative Group Ltd., wants to become ubiquitous in China: dairy. While commonplace in western diets, cream, cheese and butter are seldom used in commercial Chinese kitchens. Dairy exporters are working to change that.
Dutch dairy cooperative Royal FrieslandCampina NV opened a training kitchen in Shanghai in January, joining Fonterra in teaching Chinese cooks how to use milk-based products and incorporate them into popular dishes. In Hong Kong, where more than a century of British rule helped inspire such dishes as cheese baked rice and butter pineapple buns, dairy accounts for about 5 percent of the ingredients used in catering, according to FrieslandCampina. Matching that would create a $7.5 billion-a-year market in China.