China’s Animal Protein Outlook to 2020: Growth in Demand, Supply and Trade

China will continue to dominate the world meat production and trade over the coming years, although its animal protein industry is entering a period of transition. Demand growth is slowing, and the industry is changing in response—and it needs to! Growth in production and consumption offers opportunities for China’s producers and for global traders.

Video: Opportunities for Chinese Producers and Global Traders in Animal Protein

Video: Opportunities for Chinese Producers and Global Traders in Animal Protein - A Global View

Report summary

As China's economy slows, animal protein demand growth is following suit, but additional demand each year is still big in absolute terms (see Figure 1). On the supply side, pork production will be reshaped, while poultry production faces uncertainty, and beef production will likely drop. As a consequence, meat imports are expected to increase steadily, further cementing China's role as the world's most significant meat importer.

Figure 1: China’s meat demand growth will continue to slow, but additional demand each year remains big in absolute terms

Pork production will be reshaped

In the coming years, additional production will mainly occur in the north and north-east, while in the south—where rivers and lakes are located—further development of pork production will be restricted.

Poultry production faces uncertainty

The breeding stock for white-feathered birds depends on imports, making the whole supply chain vulnerable to any trading changes. We expect whitebird production to drop in 2017, due to the low level of breeding herd and trade restrictions.

Beef production will likely drop first and then grow

In 2017, beef production is expected to drop. Thereafter the industry will grow at 1% to 2% each year, until 2020. However, beef demand is expected to outpace domestic production. This will lead to growing imports in the coming years. By 2020, imports are expected to make up more than 20% of the total supply.

China will cement its role as the number one global meat importer

Meat imports are expected to increase steadily in the coming years, across beef, pork and poultry, reinforcing China’s position as the world’s most important meat trader (see Figure 2). As total meat imports to mainland China reach over 6m tonnes in 2020, China will become—if it is not already—the main focus for meat exporters everywhere.

Figure 2: Animal protein imports to mainland China will total over 6 million tonnes per year in 2020

Two important questions arise from this increasing focus. The first is how China will look to influence global meat trade, given its dominant role. The second is how animal protein companies will look to establish a sustainable supply chain to meet China’s evolving market needs. We look at providing answers to these questions in our new RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness report, China's Animal Protein Outlook to 2020: Growth in Demand, Supply and Trade

In the next few weeks, this outlook will be followed by a series of 2-page reports, individually focusing on global regions and the particular impact these developments will have.