Chefs cook meat for visitors at an international meat exhibition in Qingdao, Shandong province, on Oct 18. The three-day exhibition brought together major meat industry players from home and abroad.YANG FEIYUE/CHINA DAILY
Rising affluence of Chinese middle class, health awareness help expand meat trade
Consumption upgrade, health consciousness and pursuit of a better quality of life are all spurring innovation and expansion of meat trade in China－and Liao Xiuping, in her 30s, a bank employee in Qingdao, Shandong province, －would vouch for it.
She visited an international meat exhibition in her hometown on Oct. 18. The three-day event, jointly hosted by the China Meat Association and the France-based International Meat Society, brought together major meat industry players from home and abroad. They all displayed and sold their latest products.
That's when Liao realized Chinese consumers can now buy a wide range of meat products, including novelties.
"My family loves meat dishes, and I've come to see if I could buy new and quality products. I'm pleased to see there's a lot available here," Liao said at the exhibition.
That's high praise from a connoisseur of meat products. Liao regularly buys premium meat from well-known domestic producers as well as importers who sell through online marketplaces JD and Tmall.
"Meat is an important element on our family dining table, and I want to make sure it's nutritious and safe for my child," Liao said.
In recent years, middle-class parents such as Liao, flush with rising disposable incomes and health awareness, are stoking increasing demand for quality meat in China.
Meat imports have been steadily rising from 2014 onward, according to the CMA.
Last year, China imported 4.67 million tons of meat, up 63.4 percent year-on-year.
"Our meat imports grew by more than 55 times from 1992 to 2016, and more than doubled compared to 2010," said Gao Guan, deputy secretary-general of the CMA.
China's annual meat consumption has reached 90 million tons (or 66 kg per person per year), he said, adding that the figure is expected to reach 100 million tons by 2020.
The potential has drawn attention of many meat producers abroad.
"We've exported a lot of pork to China of late. Its value was about 700 million euros (4.81 million) in 2016," said Jos Goebbels, president of the Dutch Meat Association.
The DMA has been doing business in China since 2012 and saw volumes increase tenfold over the past few years.
"Our products can be found in supermarkets and restaurants (in China)," Goebbels said.
He attributed the success to Dutch pork's consistency in quality. The DMA would start exporting beef as well to China soon.
It has signed a cooperation agreement with its Chinese counterpart, the CMA, and both sides would set up a Joint Meat Cooperation Center, and engage in pork and beef quality control and market information exchange.
The increasing demand for better meat has also spurred domestic producers to make efforts to come up with suitable supplies.
For instance, Lon Food Co has applied Chinese veterinarian approach to raising its pigs.