China will definitely continue to impress the world. In November 2016 Chinese Executive President Li Shuilong visited the World Meat Congress in Uruguay. He declared that Peoples Republic of China will import 10 million tons of meat by 2020!
China alone accounts for a third of the world’s meat consumption. Nearly 80 million tons of meat has been consumed in 2015 and nearly half of the world’s consumption of pork, 50 million tons. The development of the country has changed consumer habits. Due the rise of the middle class and increase in purchasing power, the demand after pork and beef has been growing. That additionally to the long loved poultry.
The meat market is booming in China with an average consumption per year and per Chinese of more than 63kg. China, in addition to being a major consumer of meat, is also the first country to satisfy a big part of its own demand. The country itself has also improved and modernized its production tools to become more efficient. By 2020, its meat production is expected to reach 90 million tonnes (mainly pork) in response to a demand of 100 million tonnes.
However, due to many health and sanitary scandals, citizens have lost confidence of receiving quality meat from local vendors. At the same time, the affluent class consumes more and more meat, similarly to the West. As a result, China imports most of its meat from the United States (40%), the European Union (25%) and the Mercosur countries (20%). It also imports from Oceania but that less than 15%. Keeping the import of poultry (possibly due to the latest bird flu incidents) highest among other meat.
Already in 2015, China imported 38% more than in 2014 (777 500 tonnes of meat of which 580 100 from the European Union). European countries are considering to increase their meat exports to China due to the depreciation of the euro. Similarly, the United States has the same ambition despite the strength of their dollar.
In mid-2016, the Chinese government unveiled a new “diet” program aimed to lower meat consumption by 50%. That in order to reduce greenhouse gas emission and Public health problems (obesity, diabetes). James Cameron even congratulated and encouraged this program. He stated: “China’s willingness to halve its meat consumption would not only have a huge impact on public health, but also be an important step to drastically reduce emission. That supports the objectives set out in the Paris Agreements”. However, Li Shuilong statement in Uruguay, November 2016 indicates a pause of the program or even its cancellation. Good news to the companies in the United States, the European Union, Mercosur and Oceania, that are exporting or wishing to export meat to China.