By Felicity Rusk
Chinese beef imports registered impressive growth this year. Between September and September, China imported 1.57 million tonnes of fresh and frozen beef, according to Chinese government statistics. This is almost 40% more than the same period of the previous year. This is due to the combination of a national protein deficit following the decimation of the pig herd by ASF and the growth of the middle class influencing the purchasing and consumption habits of consumers.
While imports have continued to increase, there are significant changes from where beef is imported. Brazil has significantly increased its market share this year, with the country now accounting for nearly 40% of Chinese beef imports, up from 22% the year before. Brazilian beef is very competitive in terms of price, with prices per tonne lower than Australia and New Zealand in dollars, which has allowed Brazil to capture part of the market in these countries.
Shipments from Argentina also increased this year, totaling 335,000 tonnes. However, the country’s market share has remained relatively stable at 23%.
By 2021, the USDA expects Chinese beef imports to reach 2.9 million tonnes of CWE, which, if achieved, will be 4% more than forecast for 2020 (2, 75 million tonnes of CWE). Imports are expected to be sustained due to modest growth in domestic production and constantly changing consumption patterns. Brazil will be well positioned to meet this growing demand, with an expanding herd and competitive export prices on the world market.
However, thExpected import growth would be weakest in half a decade, due to the expectation of substantial growth in the Chinese pig herd.
What about the UK?
The UK has had access to the Chinese beef market for just over a year now. There are, however, some paperwork that needs to be put in place to allow the business to begin. This would be imminent and volumes are expected to sink in 2021. While the UK may not be able to respond to the mass market in the same way as Brazil, it aims to meet the needs of consumers looking for beef. quality. Nonetheless, now that beef has become a more established part of the Chinese diet, the nation represents a key opportunity for the future.