Figures from New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra show that China dairy imports increased 41pc, or 58,000m tonnes, in February compared to the same month last year.
It comes on the back of dairy imports to China being up 14pc for the 12 months to February, compared to the same period last year.
Fluid and fresh dairy, China’s largest import category, was up 31pc, or 159,000m tonnes over this 12-month period.
This monthly growth, the largest increase since March 2016, was led by whey powder, up 63pc, WMP, up 52pc, and fluid and fresh dairy, up 46pc.
The rest of Asia saw dairy imports increase by 2pc, or 8,000m tonnes, in December compared to the same month the previous year. Fluid and fresh dairy increased 19pc, or 9,000m tonnes, while SMP and WMP were down a combined 7pc or 10,000m tonnes.
Fonterra said that Asian imports for the 12 months to December were up 5pc, or 187,000m tonnes, compared to the same period the previous year.
Meanwhile, total New Zealand milk production in February was down 3pc compared to the same month last year. After adjusting for the 2016 leap year, production was up 1pc for the month.
For the 12 months to February, milk production was down 2pc compared to the same period the previous year.
This is a result of lower volumes at the peak due to the impact of weather, with some improvement to growing conditions since the peak, Fonterra said.
Its figures also show that total New Zealand dairy exports in January decreased 10pc or 36,000m tonnes, but exports for the 12 months to January were up 3pc, or 85,000m tonnes, on the previous comparable period. Growth was led by infant formula and fluid and fresh dairy, up a combined 46pc.
EU dairy exports decreased 9pc in December, or 39,000m tonnes, it says, compared to the same month the previous year, the second consecutive month of declining exports.
With the exception of infant formula, up 14pc, all major dairy categories were down, Fonterra’s figures show, while SMP, WMP, cheese and fluid and fresh dairy were down a combined 11pc or 30,000m tonnes.