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Chinese meat major refocuses on established markets from emerging ones

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Chinese meat major refocuses on established markets from emerging ones

Related tags Agriculture

New Hope is anticipating a fourfold rise in business after announcing plans to expand into new established markets as part of China’s “Belt and Road” initiative to promote exports.

The Chinese conglomerate, which is active in meat and feedstuffs, as well as chemicals and financial services, currently only gets 10% of its sales from overseas.

Liu Yonghao, New Hope Group’s chairman, told a conference in Beijing that China had fallen behind in agricultural output.

"How to keep up with the speed of the industry? That's the biggest challenge of our agri-food companies​," Liu said. 

The answer, he believes, is to look overseas by “investing in first-tier countries and collaborating with them in research, advanced manufacture, seeds, breeding and logistics.​” 

Only by doing so could China be seen as a global player, he added.

Han Changbin, China's minister of agriculture, said it was up to local companies to play a leading role in cross-border agricultural trade.

We need to cultivate future agricultural companies that have international vision and can promote overseas investment, in order to create an ecosystem complete with communication mechanisms for understanding agricultural technology​,” said Han.

New Hope is no stranger to overseas markets, after beginning an expansion policy in 1997. Though it is currently present in over 30 countries, the focus on its plans is now expected to move away from emerging markets and into established ones.

Its leading markets include the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Brazil, Egypt and Poland.

"Now we aim to expand into developed countries through acquisitions​," said Liu. "We set up regional headquarters in Singapore and Australia, and we are planning another one in the Netherlands, in Europe​."

Beyond more overseas investment, New Hope is also planning to supply rising Chinese demand for better agri-products.

"People are eyeing quality food but that's in short supply, be it quality beef, lamb and premium seafood​," Liu said. "Demand is massive and we need to meet people's requirements. Further agricultural reform—that’s our new mission​.”

More stories from China…

Pork over-capacity providing too much uncertainty for Smithfield expansion

Over-capacity in the world’s biggest pork market has prompted the chief executive of WH Group to exercise caution over expanding its Smithfield’s pork processing operation in China.


Speaking to Reuters during the annual meeting of China’s Communist Party, Wan Long predicted that pork prices would fall to an average of 14-15 yuan (US$4.20) per kilo later this year. This comes soon after the pork market hit a price record in 2016.

WH bought American-based Smithfield Food, the world’s biggest pork producer, in 2013 for almost US$5bn.

"Over-capacity in China is not only in heavy industry, but also the food industry suffers from this problem, so we will expand according to the Chinese market situation​," Wan said.

He also predicted that WH imports of American pork to China will increase this year from 300,000 tonnes in 2016.

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