China’s legal import volume reached 579,800 tons in 2016. At present, the country is the third largest beef producer after the US and Brazil, with its beef production accounting for over 10 percent of the global production. In addition, the proportion of China's beef production in the national meat production rose from about 5 percent in 1990 to 8.4 percent in 2016.
The demand for beef products will keep rising as the livelihood of Chinese residents rises and their dietary pattern improves, according to the report. The beef production in China will not grow rapidly due to the long period of beef cattle breeding. With the rising income level and the changes of dietary habits of Chinese residents—such as the popularisation of Western food—the demand for beef per capita will significantly rise in the coming ten years.
The export volume of beef in the county has been larger than the import volume before 2010 because the market price of beef in China had long been below that of the developed countries. However, the price of domestic beef rose rapidly since 2010 due to the increasing demand in China.
The market price of beef in the country exceeded US$3,000 per ton in 2010, which was much higher than that of the international market. The quality of domestic beef was below the international level, thus China began to import a large amount of beef from Canada, Australia and Brazil, amongst other countries.