ANALYSIS - China is playing an increasingly important role on the international meat market, thanks to rising consumption, prices and imports. Chris Harris reports from the World Meat Congress in Beijing.
The country’s rising population, growing urbanisation and rising economy is helping to increase demand for meat products across all sectors the World Meat Congress in Beijing heard this week.
Last year China slaughtered more than 715.5 million pigs, producing nearly 55 million tonnes of pig meat and taking more than 50 per cent of global production.
China imported 25 per cent of the global sheep meat trade last year and beef imports into the country are also rising with growing prices.
At the same time, China is also seeing a growth and development of its own meat processing sector with a focus on larger more integrate plants, with higher food safety standards and growing profitability.
In 2013, there were 3,493 processing plants in the country worth a total of RMB5,357.16 billion. The companies have seen their revenue rise by 14.48 per cent.
“China’s meat industry is in a period of fast growth,” Meng Qingguo the president of the China Meat Association told the Congress.
He said that total meat output for the last year rose by 1.8 per cent.
At the same time, beef prices in the country rose by 18.5 per cent and sheep meat prices rose by 14.3 per cent. Pork prices rose by a smaller amount – just 0.4 per cent and chicken meat prices fell slightly by 0.7 per cent.
The dramatic rise in beef and sheep meat prices is because of a severe lack of supply in the country, which has seen a sharp rise in imports for both meats.
Last year, the total output of meat in China was 85 million tonnes and the country has also now seen consumption rise to 60kg per person a year.
He Luli, (pictured above) the vice chairwoman of the Standing Committee of the Tenth National People’s Congress and honorary president of the China Meat Association said: “The Chinese government has placed great importance on meat products and processing.
“After decades of contraction, the foundations were placed for the present meat industry and now it has been fundamentally transformed.
“The meat companies of China have been reaching out to meat companies around the world and China has been catching up with international standards,” she said.
The growth of consumption and trade in China is helping to paint a positive picture for the global meat sector.
Market analyst. Richard Brown from GIRA said that following the gloomier picture in 2013 when the market was hit by high feed costs, this year with grain costs down and despite continued high price of feed, feed costs for the livestock sector have fallen.
Prices for meat producers are now higher and consumption across the world is rising by about 1.5 per cent.
Despite China’s large and expanding production of meat across all the livestock sectors. the country is still needs to import to fulfil consumer demand and imports out weight export with the gap widening.
“China has become a more important market for the world as a whole,” Mr Brown told the World Meat Congress.
“Consumption is up, there are rising high prices and imports are growing. In two years, China now represents 25 per cent of the global sheep meat trade.”
He added that major Chinese meat processing companies are now in the top 10 meat companies in the world and are having a major impact on the global meat trade.