A New Era in China’s Beef Market: Domestic and Global Impacts of China’s Rediscovered Meat

Though beef is not among the major animal proteins consumed in China, beef demand has strong growth potential. African swine fever, Covid-19, the fast expansion of e-commerce, and lifestyle changes have all contributed to China’s burgeoning beef market. In the coming years, we expect to see a slowly growing market volume but a rapidly growing market value, along with premiumization and other changes in the consumer market. We also expect beef consumption via modern retail channels, including e-commerce, to rise faster, while increases in foodservice will be stable.

Due to China’s limited resources, cattle production can increase only moderately in specific regions where businesses can receive policy support, as it meets the goals of both economic benefit and social impact. This makes cattle production an integral part of sustainability themes in production regions, whereas, in other countries, it is often portrayed as having sustainability challenges. The additional beef demand will be mainly met by imports, which will further intensify global market competition for beef supply and impose upward pressure on global beef prices in the coming years.