China World’s Largest Importer of Food

China World’s Largest Importer of Food
Dec 25, 2013 By

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According to date released by the National Bureau of Statistics China’s annual growth rate when it comes to importing food sits at 15% since 2008. 2012 saw China become the world’s largest importer of food when the sale of conventional food stuffs reached 63 billion RMB.

According to the US Food Industry Association (FDA), China’s food trade market will reach 480 billion RMB by 2018.

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Keywords: China becomes world’s largest importer of food


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Oh dear. Dare I suggest that the reason why China has become the largest importer of food has rather less to do with their attitudes towards dairy products and rather more to do with the issue of how to feed a fifth of the world's population with only a tenth of the world's arable land? It also has the world's largest population, in case some here have forgotten. Why should it be surprising that it is the largest importer of food. I also dare say the main categories of imported food is less fancy cheese and butter and instead rather more mundane things like fruit and vegetables. Western cheese and butter would still be too expensive for the average Chinese wage earner, particularly since it's not a regular part of their diet to begin with. That said there are certain items where due to the local brands having trashed their reputations (e.g. milk powder), imports are going to make up a stronger than average share of the market.

Dec 26, 2013 23:13 Report Abuse



this discussion has become inundated with personal attacks, so i'm glad your comment focuses on the issue at hand. i disagree with your assessment due to my personal observations, though i admit that my life in sichuan province may not be representative of the whole country. sichuan farmers are adept at growing nearly any kind of fruit or vegetable. if i go into any shop here, i'll find nothing imported at all. most people outside cities buy their foor from vegetable markets in the villages and county towns, from the farmers who produced them. which is surprising given the apetites for imported goods. i do find imported goods in shopping malls and shops in large cities, but these things arent basic foodstuffs, but rather high VAT products like beer, cigarettes, cheese, chocolate, cornflakes and so on. they do not fulfill a deficiency in nutrition on the chinese food market as you suggest, but are what everyone (present company excluded) would classify as non-essential luxuries. i reiterate that my observations in agricultural sichuan may not be representative of all china, but the only imports i see here are luxuries. Keep in mind: the import in this article is measured in money rather than weight or volume. I'd guess that the USA probably imports a lot more food *by volume* than China does, and those imported low-VAT foods DO get eaten by people from many walks of life, and add to the health and variety of the selection in supermarkets.

Dec 27, 2013 13:53 Report Abuse



"They could easily get products of equal quality within China, but the exclusivity of foreign foods is preferred to set them apart from all those lowly 'local food eaters'. Because the rich have money to burn, no common sense, and fragile egos that require looking down on others to gratify their self-esteem." - So why are you saying its difficult to get bread butter and cheese and then complaining about the bread and cheese being different and not proper enough for you. I don't have to attempt, good job you've proved it once again. Continue insulting people for buying imported food. You think people buy imported food just to show off? Who are you going to show off that 20 kuai stick of butter to? How about the taste difference or the long term experience that has perfected the recipe? It's imported for a reason... because it's different and not native to local taste.

Dec 26, 2013 16:14 Report Abuse



There is no accounting for taste, so there's your first argument I can't automatically dismiss as fallacious. However, they have developed their own tastes of bread and yoghurt, based on western preparation methods but tweaked to their liking. There are hundreds if not thouusands of distinct flavours of cheese in Europe. If you claim Chinese are unable to develop their own style of cheese, I could misconstrue that as a racist opinion of Chinese people. But I won't be so tacky. If you really don't believe chinese food imports are luxuries, read up:

Dec 26, 2013 16:23 Report Abuse



They have developed their own taste of cheese, you're the one complaining its not proper enough for you and they need to make it taste western lol. Wow I feel sorry for your wife that you think like that because according to you, if she buys something imported, she must not have common sense and a fragile ego then.

Dec 26, 2013 16:28 Report Abuse



We do buy imported things on occasion; I'm trying to get acquaintances to send me Dutch baby milkpowder. Sometimes we do argue about what is and isn't necessary. Like a babyfood blender of a Chinese brand, but imported from America by Amazon, because of scares the Bisphenol-A concentrations in fake blenders might be higher, while most health & safety bodies voice little concern about BPA in food. Maybe I'm being unreasonable by asking whether we should spend so much for an import, but that's an issue between me and my wife. Your characterizations are petty and vindictive, and I believe you have gone too far in your drive to discredit me. First I was a racist loser, but now you're involving my wife? That's a low blow.

Dec 26, 2013 16:56 Report Abuse



Well that was actually your characterization of Chinese people who buy imported so I'm basically saying that those insults apply to your wife also.

Dec 26, 2013 17:06 Report Abuse



I'd ask you again to stop involving my wife in your contorted attempts to discredit me. I'm done responding to you - take your manufactured victory and stop insulting me.

Dec 26, 2013 17:17 Report Abuse



What have I contorted? You call Chinese who buy imported as having no common sense and have a fragile ego so it applies to her since 1. She is Chinese. 2. She buys imported. What you're going to complain about how you're exempt from your own insults?

Dec 26, 2013 17:40 Report Abuse



"Chinese who buy imported as having no common sense." Willful oversimplification and misrepresentation of my words, necessary for the conclusions you draw. We import necessities for the health of our child, which has nothing to do with the "imported luxury fever" afflicting the rich consumers in this country. And it's clear that you're the one with a fragile ego hellbent on saving some face by proving something. What it is that you must prove has shifted from labeling me racist to proving my wife is unhappy. I have pointed out your fallacious arguments time and again, and you just won't let it go, anonymous coward. You've lost the discussion and you just won't accept it. Now piss off.

Dec 26, 2013 18:33 Report Abuse



I don't know or care if your wife is unhappy or not, all I said was she fell into the group you're insulting. You're the one insulting people just because they buy imported food yet complain about how certain local foods isn't proper and western enough for you at the same time. What I proved is that you're a hypocrite and biased, borderline racist. Since when is imported milk at 15-20 kuai a liter a luxury item? You'll try to find any excuse to bash them even here on a three lined neutral article.

Dec 26, 2013 19:12 Report Abuse



You're equally guilty of making comments in a 3 line article, only you do it to attack me rather than convey any kind of message. And you're sounding like a broken record with your repetitive accusations - I won't waste time on you any longer, david555. If you want to remain anonymous, don't REPLY, or I can see your name in my system notices.

Dec 26, 2013 20:58 Report Abuse



Oh wait when I argue against your point, its an attack but when you're insulting people for buying imported food thats a message LOL?? Your head is stuck so far up there you can't understand how hypocritical your comments are. The repetitive part is that you should stop bashing a whole group of people without a reason to.

Dec 26, 2013 21:52 Report Abuse



I have to agree with David555 here...when other families do something it's because they are mindlessly chasing luxuries (i don't deny that's a problem) but when your family does it you are behaving rationally? That's a slippery slope. I'm with you 100% though that china needs to get it's shit together when it comes to safe domestic production. True story, there is a waiting list at my office for the expectant/newborn mothers with the company to get milk powder when someone goes on a business trip to somewhere other than mainland China. Now that's fine for the privileged few that work at international firms, but as long as people with power have the option to sidestep the's never going to get better. Once privileged parents have to buy domestic powder, you damn well better believe that powder is going to be regulated and clean.

Dec 27, 2013 09:17 Report Abuse



the logical fallacy you describe wouldnt be called a slippery slope, if true. however you gave an example of a slippery slope fallacy yourself with your effective rejection of the existence of luxury. if luxury is a relative term subject to anyone's perspective, then it's all subjective and we can't make any distinctions whatsoever. Now THAT's a slippery slope. i'd rather stick with the regular definition of luxury, as a consumption that doesnt fulfill a basic need. unless facesaving is a basic need in china.

Dec 27, 2013 14:02 Report Abuse



Since food safety is an issue, and it's difficult to get simple things like bread, butter and cheese, this hardly comes as a surprise.

Dec 25, 2013 20:35 Report Abuse



Not exactly simple when none of those things are part of the Chinese diet.

Dec 26, 2013 02:53 Report Abuse



bread and milk ARE part of the local cuisine. they just prefer to make things their own way. bread is either steamed or too sweet, and rarely made wholewheat. they CAN make a decent loaf, but i think those are mostly baked by specialized bakeries in coastal cities, because there is no demand for normal bread in most of china. they have no trouble reproducing yoghurt, but local attempts at cheese look too much like yoghurt. i think they're unwilling to concentrate the fat in milk to make proper cheese and butter because of the apparrent wastefulness of the process. western companies probably have many uses for the excess buttermilk, and it beats me why chinese milk companies haven't simply copied those techniques yet. hygiene issues? low profit margins? preference for foreign luxury imports? how i miss the dutch subsidised milk industry.

Dec 26, 2013 08:28 Report Abuse



I think it is a preference for foreign imports, at least to an extent. I think of China as having two kinds of consumers: 'average zhou's' who pretty much have base all their purchase decisions on price and aren't really very open to try new things, and people who aren't price-sensitive at all or in fact will buy the most expensive of anything. I guess the Chinese people who want to buy good cheese and bread would prefer in most cases to buy imported anyway.

Dec 26, 2013 11:20 Report Abuse



Well, that's a very harmful habit. Dutch cheese manufacturers are all exporting cheese to China, and the Dutch supermarkets needed to establish their own supply of cheese to make it available and affordable. But the price of cheese in Holland has still gone up as a result. But if the same cheesmakers moved their business to China, suddenly they'd suffer massive loss of profits unless they faked some sort of import labels. So, cheesemakers prefer to waste fuel on transportation to satisfy the unreasonable Chinese demands honestly. I think Chinese consumers deserve nothing better than to be lied to. I approve of fake labels, fake shark fins, anything that will protect the environment from irrationally harmful Chinese demands. I know there's an underlying apathy+uncompetence which makes Chinese food manufacture risky, but Chinese should really be focusing on feeding themselves, not relying on imports.

Dec 26, 2013 11:41 Report Abuse



So according to you there should be no international trade? Most Chinese don't care for cheese, you're the idiot that's complaining how difficult it is to find proper cheese and still complaining when proper cheese is imported. Yeah, because sending a shipment from a factory that already makes cheese on a ship that's heading here with other goods harms the environment more than starting up a factory just to make western cheese for the miniscule demand. Nice logic. What a racist loser, why are you even in China?

Dec 26, 2013 13:42 Report Abuse



Dear "Guest2418766", my views were from an environmental perspective, criticizing polluting habits of the locals. I would do the same for western habits, such as central heating. It's not racist to point out how wasteful it is to import goods which could easily be produced locally, and safely. You obviously didn't understand my comment, and just reacted by pulling the racist card and telling me I don't belong in my wife or child's country. You sir, are the cowardly anonymous, rigid-thinking loser. So to use your own logic: "Either get out of, or stop complaining." (about rational discussion) "If you don't want to behave rationally, you don't belong here." -and all that.

Dec 26, 2013 13:55 Report Abuse



Try reading my third sentence again. You're complaining that the local cheese isn't proper enough for you so how can you complain about imported cheese? What you expect a new local company just for your taste lol? Yes, it is racist when every comment you make is about how bad the Chinese are and blame them for everything. This is a neutral article yet you still manage to turn it negative.

Dec 26, 2013 14:10 Report Abuse



I agree; I also don't like their inability to produce food safely affects prices in other countries. The fact that milk powder here repeatedly has contained poison should be viewed as a serious failing of Chinese culture (frankly where else does this happen?) and Chinese people alone should bear the consequences of their shitty values. As long as those of means can simply buy imported, nothing is going to improve because those of means are the ones who stand to profit from lax food safety.

Dec 26, 2013 14:18 Report Abuse



your third sentence assumes that all food imports, or at least the cheese example, cost no extra fuel to just be shipped along with other cargo on a Chinabound ship anyway. But foodstuffs are actually quite bulky - they're not some kind of microchips or lightweight components that take up barely any space on a ship. And there are in fact entire ships dedicated to food imports. Your "we might as well" argument is fallacious, and your accusations of racism are equally unfair.

Dec 26, 2013 14:43 Report Abuse