Chinese choosing red meat above poultry
China's appetite for red meat continued to grow in the first half of 2014 as purchases of beef and lamb increased by more than a quarter compared to last year whilst poultry imports took a downturn.
The poultry sector, which has been severely affected by a series of food safety scandals which have impacted on demand, saw considerably lower imports in the first six months of the year .
The picture for pig meat imports was more mixed as a rise in frozen and processed pigmeat offsetting a decline in purchases of pig offal.
Statistics from Chinese customs suggested that imports of beef totalled 156,421 tonnes, representing an increase of 24% on the corresponding period of 2013. In terms of key trading partners, Australia, Uruguay and New Zealand all supplied more beef, although a drop in Canadian sales saw it lose market share to Argentina. Intelligence suggests that competition is set to heat up over the coming months from the Brazilian market as China is lifting its ban on Brazilian beef.
Similarly, import demand from China for sheep meat have also strengthened, gaining almost 30% on year to reach 171,974t in the January-June period. Imports from leading supplier (New Zealand) gained a third to reach 108,876t, while Australia and Uruguay also built on previous advances.
Both beef and sheep meat are benefiting from changes in consumption behaviours, predominantly among China's fast growing middle class population.
However, despite a growing demand for red meat, China still remains by far the world's largest consumer of pigmeat. While the bulk of this is still produced domestically, imports of frozen and processed pigmeat continue to rise, up 9% on year to reach 297,545t in the first half of the year.
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