China is now the world’s largest meat producer, consumer, and importer, with pork products dominating the market. The world’s largest pork company, Virginia-based Smithfield, was acquired by Chinese company Shineway in 2013 to meet China’s pork demand. In 2018, China consumed over 41 kilograms of pork per capita. Poultry and beef/veal are the second and third most popular types of meat across the country. In total, China now consumes around 28 percent of the global meat supply.
With local meat production constrained by limited land and water reserves, China continues to import a significant amount of meat from foreign markets. In 2016, Brazil was China’s largest meat supplier with the total meat import value of almost 1.8 billion U.S. dollars, whereas the imports from the EU countries such as the Netherlands, Spain, and Germany, were growing the fastest.
China will likely continue to play an important role in global growth of agricultural produce demand, including for meat products. Production and consumption of meat that currently have lower per capita consumption rates, such as beef and lamb, are expected to increase by at least 25 percent within the next decade, whereas pork demand growth is projected to slow.