Research Report on Beef Cattle Breeding Industry and Beef Market in China, 2011-2020

According to CRI, the legal import volume of beef in China reached 473,800 tons in 2015, 59% increase than 2014. The value of import surpassed USD 2 billion.

Before reform and opening up, China’s cattle industry focused on working cattle instead of beef. Until the early 1990s, economic reform encouraged the enthusiasm of Chinese farmers, which promoted the rapid development of beef cattle industry, beef cattle slaughter industry and beef processing industry.

The breeding mode of live cattle in China is mainly based on the scattered breeding mode, different from the large-scale breeding mode in foreign countries. The major reasons are the deteriorating quality of grassland in China and relatively insufficient grassland resources. What’s more, this kind of cattle breeding mode is determined by China’s large population, abundant labor resources, and low price of agricultural labor force.

In recent years, the fattened volume of live cattle in China rises rapidly. The annual fattened volume of the whole country increased from 13,039,000 in 1991 to 47,750,000 in 2011. With the rapid development of beef cattle slaughter and processing industry in the corresponding period, the beef production increased from 1,256,000 tons in 1990 to 7,000,000 tons in 2015. The CAGR reached 7.11%. At present, China is the third beef producer after the U.S. and Brazil with its beef production volume accounting for over 10% of the global production volume. In addition, the proportion of China’s beef production accounting for the overall national meat production rose from about 5% in 1990 to 8.12% in 2015.

With the improvement of Chinese residents’ living standard and dietary structure, Chinese residents have gradually formed the consumption concept of purchasing high-quality beef products. Thus the demand for beef has increased significantly. It is very difficult to increase supply of beef by adjusting the breeding scale because of the long breeding period and low reproductive rate. With the continuous enhancement of China’s national income level and changes of dietary habits (the promotion of western-style food etc.), per capita demand for beef will increase, so that it will stimulate the rapid growth of demand. Now, China’s annual per capita consumption of beef is less than 7 kg, less than half of the global average.

For a long time, the price of beef in China has been lower than that of developed countries, with output larger than input. But since 2010, the increasing domestic demand leads to domestic beef price’s increase. The price of beef in China exceeded 3,000 USD/ton, much higher than that of Canada and Australia. However, the quality of domestic beef is lower than that of many countries such as Canada, Australia and Brazil. China started to import a lot of beef from Australia, Brazil and Canada because of the huge disparity between quality and price and the gap between supply and demand. Since 2012, China has become a net importer of beef. The import volume reached 49,000 tons in 2012. Afterwards, the annual import continues to rise.

According to CRI, the legal import volume of beef in China reached 473,800 tons in 2015, 59% increase than 2014. The value of import surpassed USD 2 billion. The actual beef import volume in China will be much more than the legal import volume if the smuggling beef from India in Chinese market is taken into account. In 2015, Australia, Uruguay, New Zealand, Brazil were China’s main imports origins of beef. Among them, China imported 156,000 tons of beef from Australia which was China’s most important legal import origins of beef.

It is predicted that in the next few years, the demand for beef in China will continue to rise. And the import volume of beef will also continue to grow because of the low growth of China’s beef production. There are a lot of investment opportunities in Chinese market for many global cattle breeding enterprises, beef processing enterprises and beef trade enterprises.