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A good way to take a "pulse check" on China's dairy industry is to keep an eye on how the likes of McDonald's and Starbucks are faring, says Michael Harvey.

Rabobank's Melbourne-based protein analyst spoke to The Country's Jamie Mackay about how positive results for these food service industry giants, could mean good news for China and its post-Covid economy.

"When you're looking at MacDonald's or Starbucks or even Pizza Hut owners like Yum - they're global quick service restaurant brands. They have big businesses in key markets like the US, but also in China and obviously they're often big buyers of dairy products" Harvey said.


"They're a great pulse check on how that sector is going."

"We just saw overnight some earnings updates from some of these companies and they paint a story which is positive in the sense that this channel and this market got smacked around a lot when they were in shutdown and some of these companies report the same store sale being as low as 50 per cent year-on-year at the height of the crisis but they're obviously coming out of lockdown so they're in recovery mode.

"But what's interesting is also just where they are sort of suggests where things go in the short term.

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"Most companies are saying we don't know so we're not going to provide official guidance, but some of them do.

"Starbucks is saying we expect by quarter three we should be back to slightly below or pre-Covid levels, which is a good thing - but they did make mention of the fact that there's still some headwinds in that recovery because there have been shutdowns in markets like Beijing for a couple of weeks - and there's still very much an element of consumers being wary about wanting to go out and eat out and that's the headwinds for that recovery as well.

"So it's a good story in the sense that it's tracking as expected but there's a cautionary message in there around slow recovery. The numbers still don't look great right now, but we should early by next year be back to pre-Covid levels in China."

Also in today's interview: Harvey expressed his frustration over Melbourne's shut down due to Covid-19 and gave his thoughts on another positive GDT result last week.