POSTED: July 20th 2015

Sports Travel: Looking Ahead to Beijing in 2022 - Where There's Wine, There's Cheese

Le Fromager de Pekin © Sean Silbert CNN
Le Fromager de Pekin © Sean Silbert CNN

Liu Yang at work © Sean Silbert CNN
Liu Yang at work © Sean Silbert CNN

Some of his creations © Sean Silbert CNN
Some of his creations © Sean Silbert CNN

DR. ERIC C. SCHWARZ / Sports Features Communications  

(SFC)  In a recent article, we told you about the emerging wine production industry in the Beijing and Zhangjiakou region.  And as any good wine connoisseur knows, where there is wine - there is usually cheese.  So in this article we take a look at the emerging cheese culture in the Beijing region.

Cheese is not exactly a staple on the dietary menu of the Chinese people.  Historically, other than the nomadic tribes of Tibet and Mongolia, cheese is not part of the culinary culture of China.  In fact a large percentage of the population is lactose intolerant.

In fact, the majority of the growth of the cheese culture in the Beijing region - and China overall - is focused on the expatiate market.  Slowly, cheese is making its way into Western-style supermarket, hotel restaurants, and a few entrepreneurs looking to be first to market with cheese-related establishments.

One such business is Le Fromager de Pekin.  Meaning "the cheese maker of Beijing", owner Liu Yang seeks to mirror familiar French cheese ranging from camembert, Fromage Blanc, and goat cheese to cooking staples including ricotta and mozzarella.  While only 20% of his customers are Chinese, Yang has received praise from many of the expats and diplomats in Beijing - including the French embassy, numerous five-star hotels, and the ever increasing number of boutique markets around the city.

In the past, cheese was only on a fast food hamburger or on pizza from an American franchise.  Yang is banking on it growing into the mainstream... "[I] see French cheese as something like Coca-Cola... it was a new flavor, not yet popular... now the familiar red cans can be found everywhere in China... the same could hold true for cheese..."

If the trends hold true, he may be right.  Enoterra, a wine bar with locations in Shanghai and Beijing, offers cheese platters as one of the main offerings to their menu.  According to managing director Pierre Monie "Locals were intrigued when they saw [the cheese platters]... there was a lot of curiosity about the smell aspect... but we have seen over the past eight years an increase from 10% ordering cheese to nearly half!"

Some other hot spots for cheese in Beijing includes Euro Bakery and Hotel G Scarlett Wine Bar and Restaurant.  At the Euro Bakery, they specialize in a wide variety of Danish cheeses.  And at Hotel G, they offer many varieties of cheese from around the world - as well as offer wine and cheese buffets to allow customers to sample a wide variety of tastes.

So is China the next great frontier for cheese consumption.  Time will only tell, but New Zealand cheese producers believe it to be... they have seen an increase in consumption and resulting sales to China increase to nearly 20,000 tons of cheese per year - valued at a staggering $90 million USD.  And those figures represent an increase of 22% since 2012 - and 106% since 2010.

**DR. ERIC C. SCHWARZ is a tenured Senior Lecturer of Sport Management at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia.  He has been an academician for 15 years in the areas of sport business management, international tourism, and hospitality management - with special focus on the areas of sport marketing, sport finance, tourism, and facility/event management.  He speaks globally and is the author of numerous publications in these areas, as well as been actively involved in consulting projects working with a multitude of sport and community organizations ranging from grassroots efforts to hallmark events.  

Keywords · Beijing 2022; Olympics; cheese

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