The pace of change in the Chinese meat industry is rapid, with both demand and prices up, and modernisation continuing apace, the president of the China Meat Association told delegates to the World Meat Congress.
"In recent years, China’s meat industry has grown, there has been a significant increase in investment and rising domestic demand and the modernisation of Chinese meat industry is proceeding at a fast pace," Meng Qingguo told the congress in Beijing.
Overall, average business revenue across the meat sector grew in 2013 by 14.5%, he said, while profits and taxes were also on the rise in the same period by 18% overall. "Generally speaking, China’s meat industry is in a period of fast growth."
Output was also on the rise, with pork leading the field, growing by 2.8% in 2013, beef was up 1.7%, mutton rose 1.8% and poultry 1.3%. Total meat output across China stood at around 85m tonnes, while consumption per capita head has now hit 60kg.
Prices were also rising, with beef seeing the highest increases, climbing by 18.5%, followed by mutton up 14.3%, while poultry and pork showed more modest increases of 0.7% and 0.4% respectively. Poultry prices were held back by the avian influenza outbreak, which saw prices fall across the country.
He told delegates there was a widening deficit between the country’s imports and exports, with imports growing during 2013 by 30%.
When it comes to modernising the industry, he said work was ongoing to consolidate the industry, and since 2011, around 5,000 smaller companies had been phased out, and that was only "half way".
He added that the smaller companies continued to pose a safety risk, so it was a serious challenge to the Chinese meat industry. "We need to think about how to phase out backwards production and speed up modernisation," he said.
Despite this need for modernisation, China remains a major player in the global meat industry; its pork sector produces around 55m tonnes of pig meat a year, and accounts for around 50% of the world’s production.