China’s Dairy Century: Making, Drinking and Dreaming of Milk

Part of the The Palgrave Macmillan Animal Ethics Series book series (PMAES)


China’s dairy industry has become big business. A country that few would have associated with milk has in a short period emerged as the world’s third largest producer and second largest consumer of dairy products. But the significance of milk in China is greater than size alone, and goes back to well before the current period of explosive growth. Milk was not a prominent theme in China’s twentieth century, but it was a surprisingly persistent one. This chapter examines China’s century of dairy as three distinct processes—production, consumption and culture—discussing each according to its own sources, standards and logic. Besides introducing a vital transformation within China’s animal industries, it also aims to introduce some new ways to understand how we make, consume and think about food.


China Milk Dairy Consumption Production 


  1. AS: Archives of the Institute for Modern History, Academia Sinica, Taiwan.Google Scholar
  2. JACAR: Japan Center for Asian Historical Records.Google Scholar
  3. Baihao lianru chang [Baihao Condensed Milk]. 1940–1943. AS: 18-23-01-13-04-001.Google Scholar
  4. Bray, Francesca. 1984. Science and Civilisation in China. Volume 6, Biology and Biological Technology; Part 2, Agriculture. Edited by Joseph Needham. New York: Cambridge University.Google Scholar
  5. Chen ba’erhu qi shi zhi [Gazetteer of Old Barga Banner]. 1988. Hailaer: Nei Menggu wenhua.Google Scholar
  6. “China’s Mega-Farm… for 100,000 Cows: World’s Biggest Dairy Being Built to Supply Russian Demand After Moscow Boycotted EU Exports.” 2015. Daily Mail, July 10.
  7. Chongqing shi niunai chang [Chongqing Dairy]. 1943–1947. AS: 18-23-01-77-04-019.Google Scholar
  8. Consulate of Japan in Qiqihar. 1917. Kokuryōkōshō ni okeru bokuchikugyō namini makigyō kōshi setsuritsu keikaku ni kanshi hōkoku [Report on Pastoral Industries and Plan for the Formation of Pastoral Companies in Heilongjiang]. JACAR B11091050500.Google Scholar
  9. Consulate of Japan in Qiqihar. 1922–1924. Gyūraku, kanraku, nōraku [Butter, Cheese, Dairy]. JACAR B11092081700.Google Scholar
  10. Dairy Farm, Ice & Cold Storage Co., Ltd. 1919. The Dairy Farm, Ice & Cold Storage Co., Ltd. Hong Kong: 1886 to 1919. Hong Kong: The Company.Google Scholar
  11. Doeppers, Daniel F. 2016. Feeding Manila in Peace and War, 1850–1945. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.Google Scholar
  12. DuBois, Thomas. 2018a. “Borden and Nestlé in East Asia, 1870–1929: Branding and retail strategy in the condensed milk trade.” Presented at Commodity Trading Companies in the First Global Economy, 1870–1914, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim.Google Scholar
  13. DuBois, Thomas. 2018b. “China’s Dairy Industry Going Big.” Asia Global Institute.
  14. DuBois, Thomas, and Alisha Gao. 2017. “Big Meat: Understanding the Rise and Impact of Mega-Farming in China’s Beef, Sheep and Dairy Industries.” Asia-Pacific Journal 15 (17): 20.
  15. Elvin, Mark. 1982. “The Technology of Farming in Late-Traditional China.” In The Chinese Agricultural Economy, edited by Randolph Barker, Radha Sinha, and Beth Rose, 13–35. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  16. Evershed, et al. 2008. “Earliest Date for Milk Use in the Near East and Southeastern Europe Linked to Cattle Herding.” Nature 455: 528–531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fu, Jia-Chen. 2012. “Scientising Relief: Nutritional Activism from Shanghai to the Southwest, 1937–1945.” European Journal of East Asian Studies 11: 259–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Glosser, Susan. 1999. “Milk for Health, Milk for Profit: Shanghai’s Chinese Dairy Industry Under Japanese Occupation.” In Inventing Nanjing Road: Commercial Culture in Shanghai, 1900–1945, edited by Sherman Cochran, 207–233. Ithaca, NY: East Asia Program, Cornell University.Google Scholar
  19. Guojia tongji ju. 1994–2013. Annual Household Spending Surveys, published as Zhongguo chengzhen jumin jiating shouzhi diaocha ziliao (1994)/tongji nianjian (1995–2005), Zhongguo chengshi (zhen) shenghuo yu jiage nianjian (2006–2012). Beijing, Zhongguo tongji.Google Scholar
  20. Hailaer shi Hake xiangzhi [Gazetteer of Hake District, Hailar]. 1999. Hailaer: Neimenggu wenhua.Google Scholar
  21. Harupin annai [Guide to Harbin]. 1925. Harbin: Haerbin shangpin annai guan.Google Scholar
  22. Hennelly, Stephen. 2015. “100,000-Cow-Power Dairy Farm in China to Feed Russian Market.” China Daily, July 9.
  23. Huabei qu Beiping Mofang naichang [Huabei District, Beiping Model Dairy]. n.d. AS: 20-16-217-05.Google Scholar
  24. Huaijiang du dianfa gongsi lunchuan jinkou shi ganniunaifen nei cangyou qiangzhi deng yu yiyou zongshuisi chuanshang yanfang qingdiaocha you [Order for Tax Directorate to Investigate Hidden Guns in Shipment of Milk Imported by Steamers of the Huaijiang Electric Company]. 1907. AS: 02-10-10-02-035.Google Scholar
  25. Hulunbeier meng zhi [Gazetteer of Hulunbuir League]. 1999. Hailaer: Nei Menggu wenhua.Google Scholar
  26. Hu Sihui [14th century]. Yinshan zhengyao [Essentials of a Correct Diet].Google Scholar
  27. Kong, Xiangzhi, and Zhang Linxiang. 2008. 2008 Zhongguo naiye fazhan baogao [2008 Development Report on China’s Dairy Industry]. Beijing: Zhongguo jingji chubanshe.Google Scholar
  28. Kraal, Linni. 2017. “The Fight for America’s Disappearing Ancient Dairy Cows.” The Atlantic, August 22. Accessed December 17, 2018.
  29. Lee, Seung-joon. 2015. “The Patriot’s Scientific Diet: Nutrition Science and Dietary Reform Campaigns in China, 1910s–1950s.” Modern Asian Studies 49 (6): 1808–1839.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Levine, Carl Oscar, and William Warder Cadbury. 1918. A Study of Milk Produced in Kwangtung. Canton: Canton Christian College.Google Scholar
  31. Li, Chengguo, et al., eds. 2013. Zhongguo naiye shi [History of Chinese Dairy]. Beijing: Zhongguo nongye.Google Scholar
  32. Lu, Shuying. 2018. Muru yu niunai: jindai Zhongguo muqin juese de chongsu (1895–1937) [Mother’s milk and cow milk: The reconstruction of the mother’s role in modern China, 1895–1937]. Hong Kong: Zhonghua shuju.Google Scholar
  33. Majia guoyou kaoyan niunai hui qing paiyuan yu hui you [Request to Send Representative to Hungarian National Milk Research Conference]. AS: 03-08-022-01-03.Google Scholar
  34. Manmin seikatsu jittai chōsa, shiryō 1: Dajikanki shōgakkō seito no katei chosahyō [Materials of Mongolian lifestyles 1: Family Survey of Darhan Banner Grade School Students]. 1940. JACAR: C13021459600.Google Scholar
  35. Mikhoǐlov, I. A., T. L. Lilliestrom, and A. G. Skerst. 1924. North Manchuria and the Chinese Eastern Railway. Harbin: C.E.R. Print Office.Google Scholar
  36. Mofang naiye chang [Model Dairy]. 1937. AS: 17-23-01-73-04-003.Google Scholar
  37. Nevius, John L. 1882. China and the Chinese, a General Description of the Country and Its Inhabitants; Its Civilization and Form of Government; Its Religious and Social Institutions; Its Intercourse with Other Nations; and Its Present Condition and Prospects. Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication.Google Scholar
  38. “Notices of China, No. II. Face of the Country, Its Populousness and Climate; Agriculture; Food of the People.” 1840. The Chinese Repository (1832–1851), October 1.Google Scholar
  39. Pasiakos, S. M., S. Agarwal, H. R. Lieberman, and V. L. Fulgoni III. 2015. Sources and Amounts of Animal, Dairy, and Plant Protein Intake of US Adults in 2007–2010. Nutrients 7: 7058–7069. Scholar
  40. Pasternak, Burtan, and Janet W. Salaff. 1993. Cowboys and Cultivators: The Chinese of Inner Mongolia. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  41. RMRB. Renmin ribao [People’s Daily].Google Scholar
  42. Rupin zhizao chang gongsi [Dairy Manufacturing Co.]. 1947. AS: 18-23-01-72-04-109.Google Scholar
  43. Shanghai muzhi naiye gongsi [Shanghai Farm and Dairy]. 1937. AS: 17-23-01-72-01-008.Google Scholar
  44. Shen Taimo. [19th century]. Donghua suo lu [Trifles from the East].Google Scholar
  45. Shiye bu, yumusi [Ministry of Industry, Department of Fishing and Husbandry]. 1933–1935. Niuruye diaocha [Investigation of Dairy Industry]. AS: 17-27-195-03.Google Scholar
  46. Shiye bu, yumusi [Ministry of Industry, Department of Fishing and Husbandry]. 1935–1937. Hubei sheng runiu muchang diaocha biao [Investigation of Dairy Farms in Hubei]. AS: 17-27-188-01.Google Scholar
  47. Swislocki, Marc. 2011. “Nutritional Governmentality: Food and the Politics of Health in Late Imperial and Republican China.” Radical History Review 110: 9–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 2012. “Regulatory Definitions of Large CAFOs, Medium CAFO, and Small CAFOs.”
  49. Valenze, Deborah M. 2011. Milk: A Local and Global History. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Wang Huaibao, et al., eds. 1999. Zhongguo naiye 50 nian [50 Years of Chinese Dairy]. Beijing: Haiyang.Google Scholar
  51. Wang, Jingjing, Mei Chen, and Peter G. Klein. 2015. “China’s Dairy United: A New Model for Milk Production.” American Journal of Agricultural Economics 97 (2): 618–627.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Wang Mengying. [mid-19th century]. Suixiju yinshi pu [Book of eating and drinking at Suixiju].Google Scholar
  53. Xihu lianru gongsi [West Lake Condensed Milk Co.]. 1933–1937. AS: 17-23-01-13-04-021.Google Scholar
  54. Xiu, Changbai, and K. K. Klein. 2010. “Melamine in Milk Products in China: Examining the Factors That Led to Deliberate Use of the Contaminant?” Food Policy 35: 463–470.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. “Yan du xiao shipin za yong” [Ode to the Street Foods of Beijing]. 1937. In Beiping fengsu lei zheng [Categorized Customs of Beiping]. Taibei: Zhongyang yanjiu yuan lishi yuyan yanjiu suo.Google Scholar
  56. Yang, Ruijia, Wei Huang, Lishi Zhang, Miles Thomas, and Xiaofang Pei. 2009. “Milk Adulteration with Melamine in China: Crisis and Response.” Quality Assurance and Safety of Crops & Foods 1 (2): 111–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Yinshan zheng yao [Essential Knowledge for Eating and Drinking]. [14th century].Google Scholar
  58. Yoshida, Yutaka. 2000. Gyūnyū to nihonjin [Milk and the Japanese People]. Tokyo: Shinjuku Shobō.Google Scholar
  59. Yu, Xuebin. 2002. Dongbei lao zhaozhuang [Old Manchurian Signboards]. Shanghai: Shanghai shudian.Google Scholar
  60. Zhang, Su, and Shanying Lu. 2014. “Jiefang chuqi naiye fazhande zhengce cuoshe gaiyao” [Overview of Policies and Methods for the Expansion of Dairy in the Early Liberation Period]. Zhongguo nongye tongbao 30 (8): 1–6.Google Scholar
  61. Zhongguo wujia tongji nianjian [China Yearbook of Price Statistics], 1988–1992. Beijing: Zhongguo tongji.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Professor of HumanitiesBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations