U.S. beef back on market in China at high prices

Updated 2017-07-31 16:32:15 chinaplus.cri.cn

It has been a month since China re-opened to U.S. beef imports following a 14-year ban.

The current price of U.S. beef on sale in China's supermarkets ranges from 116 to 316 yuan (17 to 47 U.S. dollars) per kilogram, depending on the types of cuts, reports China Central Television.

A spokesperson with WuMart, a Chinese grocery store chain, says they anticipate prices will drop by around 50% after sea transport becomes available for U.S. beef imports.

The price of domestic beef, mostly from northern China, ranges from 70-90 yuan (10-13 U.S. dollars) per kilo, while imported beef from Australia, usually frozen, is priced at about 55-70 yuan (8-10 U.S. dollars) per kilo. Both are much cheaper than U.S. beef, which is only making it into China via air transport, aiming at middle- and high-end market.

Statistics released by China's Ministry of Commerce show beef consumption reached 8 million tons in 2016, among which 825,000 tons was imported from Australia, Uruguay, New Zealand and other large beef exporters.

Liang Ming, an official from U.S. Meat Export Federation, predicts the price of U.S. beef will be more affordable for Chinese consumers next year.

There are concerns that U.S. beef will have a marked impact on China's beef producers.

It is reported that cattle prices have dropped by around 5 percent since the Spring Festival, putting a squeeze on Chinese cattle farmers' profit margins.

However, cattle brokers in China say U.S. beef is not to blame, noting Chinese and U.S. beef are destined for different markets.

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