Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Wednesday 20 September 2017

China continues to import beef in by the boat load

Chinese consumers’ appetite for beef is growing fast—faster than any other animal protein—and China’s producers cannot keep up.
Chinese consumers’ appetite for beef is growing fast—faster than any other animal protein—and China’s producers cannot keep up.
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

China’s imports of beef are continuing to soar with plenty of opportunity for exporters to find business, according to Conor O’Sullivan, Trade Marketing Specialist in Bord Bia’s Shanghai Office.

He says for years, China’s beef industry was largely self-sufficient and closed off to foreign producers.

But with rising incomes and urbanisation, O’Sullivan says Chinese consumers’ appetite for beef is growing fast - faster than any other animal protein - and China’s producers cannot keep up.

“Annual per capita beef consumption is now over 6kg, and city dwellers (56pc of the population) are eating even more than that.

“Consumption will rise 1-2pc again this year and by 2020 the Chinese will be demanding over 9m tonnes of beef,” he says, from the current of 579,000t.

China’s domestic beef production target is 7.86m tonnes by 2020, but they are behind, according to O’Sullivan.

“Herd numbers are down after drought in key cattle-producing regions and increased culling in response to depressed dairy prices. Capacity will drop further this year, from 7.1 to 6.9m tonnes.

“This all adds up: last year, beef consumption outstripped domestic supply by more than 1.2m tonnes. Imports are making up the difference.

Also Read


“According to Rabobank’s Beef Quarterly Q1 2017, China’s official beef imports grew 22pc last year to 579,400t, with Brazil (30pc of imports), Uruguay and Australia leading the pack.

“But official imports count for less than half the total. The grey market for beef is an estimated 638,600t,” he said.

O’Sullivan says even if China hits its 2020 production target, import demand would still be 1.2m tonnes.

But in the likely scenario that the country misses its targets, he said it might need as much as 1.6m tonnes.

“In either case, one thing is sure: a much more sizeable share of imports will come through official channels. In 2013, just seven beef exporting countries were approved for China.

“With South Africa added in March, 12 countries are now shipping beef, with more expected this year.

“Despite increasing competition, there is still plenty of room at Chinese ports for beef from all nations,” he said.


For Stories Like This and More
Download the FarmIreland App


Online Editors