Through 2012, output volumes within the Chinese beef production market totalled 6.623 million tons, increasing by 2.3% YOY.
China is among the world's largest beef producers and consumers, although per capita annual beef consumption in China, at around 4.3 kilograms (9.5 pounds), currently ranks a distant fourth behind pork, poultry and seafood.
With rising incomes, consumers begin to diversify their meat purchases, resulting in growing demand for beef. The enormous population base of the Greater China region provides a substantial target market for expanded beef consumption and exports.
A closer look into China's beef industry reveals further potential need for imported beef to meet the growing demand. The beef processing industry in China remains in its infancy. Most larger-scale commercial slaughter and fabrication plants were established early this decade, while the oldest large-scale plants are, at the most, 15 years old. Most Chinese beef is still processed in small, local slaughter plants.
US beef exports to the Greater China region surged 135% in volume last year versus 2007, totalling more than 50,000 metric tons (110 million pounds) while the value of those exports jumped 170% to nearly $150 million.
The trend continues this year, with beef exports to the region up 46% in volume and 51% in value versus the first eight months of 2008, even with current restrictions that do not allow direct beef exports to mainland China and only boneless beef from cattle less than 30 months eligible for export to Hong Kong.
The Greater China region has been the largest growth market for US beef exports in 2009, followed by Japan (where exports are still restricted by the 20-month age limit).
Due to the long production cycle and low reproductive rate of beef cattle, it is hard to increase the supply through adjusting the production scale. Along with the development of Chinese economy and the wide application of agricultural machinery, the labour value of cattle gradually disappeared and the supply system that based on traditional scattered production model almost collapsed.
However, new large- scale cattle production models have not been established yet, so the situation of weak beef supply is hard to change in a short time.
It is predicted that both the price and import volume of beef will keep increasing in China in the coming years. As to cattle production enterprises, beef processing enterprises and beef import enterprises, there are many investment opportunities in beef cattle production industry and beef processing industry in China.
For more information on the Chinese beef production market, see the latest research: Chinese Beef Production Market
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