Chew on this


With regard to meat products, China has witnessed an astronomical increase in consumption from a mere 7 million tons in 1975 to 75 million tons last year. China now consumes roughly 50 kilograms (kg) of meat per capita. This, combined with its massive population of 1.4 billion people, has made China the largest consumer of meat in the world. In terms of per capita meat consumption, China still falls behind countries like Australia and the United States (93 and 97 kg per capita, respectively), but well ahead of Japan’s 35.6 kg per capita. While domestic production has increased, meat imports have become an increasingly important component of China’s food security. China’s 3.6 million tons of meat imports in 2016 represents a several thousand percent increase from the mid-1970s.

China’s exploding demand for meat can be attributed to the changing nature of Chinese demographics. China’s ongoing economic development has sparked the largest urban migration in the history of the world, with an estimated 83 million – or 60 percent of China’s total population – expected to permanently reside in cities by 2020. By comparison, the World Bank estimates that India’s urban population will increase by 44 million in the coming years, accounting for just 1.7 percent of its total population. The rising income level of China’s growing urban middle class has corresponded with a shift away from a traditionally grain-oriented diet to an increasingly meat-heavy intake.

While fish has always been a staple of the Chinese diet, it is becoming an increasingly important source of protein. China’s per capita fish consumption grew at an average annual rate of five percent between 1990 and 2013. At 37.9 kg of per capita consumption, residents of China eat more fish than any other people, and significantly more than the world average of 19.7 kg. To meet this demand, China’s global fishing activities have exploded. China is the largest producer of fish products, with 76.1 million tons of production in 2014. China is the world leader in terms of both aquatic capture (harvesting wild sea creatures) at 14 million tons and aquaculture (rearing and farming sea creatures in controlled environments) production, at 58.8 million tons. By comparison, Indonesia ranked second in total production with a harvest of 20 million tons.

Impressive progress. Under Mao, GDP per capita was almost nothing, and now it’s around a quarter of that of the US. US GDP per capita is almost 100x that of North Korea. We’ll check in on Venezuela in a couple of years.

Hey, we could have linked to Pacifica conspiracy theories, or genies from great Saturday morning TV shows who are now threatening doggies, but we like to maintain a high tone. Higher than this, at a minimum.

2 Responses to “Chew on this”

  1. feeblemind Says:

    Yes indeed. The improvement in the Chinese diet over the last 30 years has been nothing short of spectacular.

    I can recall perhaps 35 years ago when the ChiCom government was exhorting the population to ‘eat one mouthful less’ of rice at every meal to make the staple go further.

  2. feeblemind Says:


    Moody’s downgrades China rating to A1 from Aa3, citing concerns over a slowing economy and growing debt

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