China’s Beef Imports Rising Rapidly

CHINA - China is set to officially become a net importer of beef in 2010, according to Gerard Brickley, Meat Division Manager at the Irish food agency, Bord Bia.
calendar icon 6 April 2010
clock icon 2 minute read

Just two years ago, China’s exports exceeded registered imports by seven to one.

This year, China’s official beef imports are set to grow 30% to 30,000 tonnes, - mainly from Australia, Uruguay and New Zealand.

In addition, however, a USDA report suggests that at least a further 100,000 tonnes enters the country through “gray” channels, mainly from Brazil and the USA.

China is the fourth largest beef market in the world, at 5.5 million tonnes.

Domestic production is set to fall by 4.6 per cent this year. Official forecasts predict a 4.3 per cent drop in consumption, still leaving room for a small rise in imports.

With the population set to grow by 9 million, and the economy forecast to grow further in 2010 however, predictions of a decline in beef consumption may be too pessimistic, and as a consequence, grey market imports may well rise significantly.

China’s calf crop is forecast to be down four per cent to 41 million head in 2010, yet China’s efforts to grow domestic production continue, following the removal of 1m dairy cows in the wake of the melamine scandal in 2008.

Live imports are forecast to rise by 25 per cent to 45,000 head this year, mainly coming from Australia and New Zealand.

The challenge facing Chinese beef production is that pig and poultry farming yield better returns, and a quicker return on investment, despite beef prices of €4.84/kg, which is 80 per cent higher than pork and more than twice the price of chicken.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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