Food Consumption in China

Food Consumption in China

The Revolution Continues

Zhang-Yue Zhou, Hongbo Liu and Lijuan Cao

Recent decades have seen China’s domestic consumption in sectors such as food, housing, health care, education and travel greatly increase. This important book assesses China’s current food consumption trends and the outlook for its future needs of such a crucial commodity.

Chapter 5: Outlook for China's food consumption and import needs

Zhang-Yue Zhou, Hongbo Liu and Lijuan Cao

Subjects: asian studies, asian economics, environment, agricultural economics, asian environment, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy


Based on the analyses of consumption trends in the previous two chapters, this chapter provides an outlook for the consumption and import needs of various major foods by China in 2020. The approach adopted in providing this outlook takes account of existing projections by other studies, conditions peculiar to China in its food consumption and production, and the authors' expertise on China's food consumption and production developed from research over the past 30 years. Earlier analyses suggested that with the exception of food grains, per capita consumption of many other food items by Chinese consumers increased during the last decade. Those factors that have driven these increases will continue to drive higher consumption, with the impact of urbanisation potentially becoming the most influential factor. Questions arise: how will China's consumption of various foods increase in the future? Can China produce enough domestically to meet the rising demand? If imports are needed, how much will China import? Projecting China's future food production, consumption and trade in food products requires reliable data. While there is no shortage of sound forecasting approaches, data of acceptable quality is generally not available. Various individual researchers, governments and international organisations have attempted to conduct such forecasts by using freely available data, mostly from Chinese government publications, plus data obtained from field work, and in some cases self-generated estimates or assumptions. However, food consumption projections vary widely; see, for example, Huang et al. (1999), Chen (2004), FAPRI, USDA, OECD-FAO.

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