For the first time in its history, China is expected to produce more corn than rough rice, demonstrating a growing affluence by the Chinese middle class and their demand for an increasingly protein-rich diet, the Washington-based U.S. Grain Council said.
In its December World Agricultural Supply & Demand Estimate, the U.S. Department of Agriculture revised its projection upward for Chinese corn production from 200 million metric tons (7.9 billion bushels) to 208 million metric tons (8.2 billion bushels). USDA is also projecting China's rough rice production to be slightly more than 204 million metric tons.
During the past two decades, China has experienced significant growth in meat demand. Poultry consumption has increased 300 percent, followed by beef at 155 percent and pork at 85 percent. “That is a dramatic contrast to the U.S. figures, which are 45 percent, 6 percent and 3 percent respectively,” the council said.
The council also noted rice represents a staple food for more than 2 billion people—including two of the world's most populous countries—India and China—but the data suggests people in China are increasing their desire for animal protein.
"Dramatic shifts in corn production are taking place across the globe" said Kevin Roepke, USGC manager of global trade, in a statement. "This is stark evidence that today's corn producer is well poised to take advantage of growing global consumerism."
The U.S. Grains Council has been working in China for more than 30 years and has an office located in Beijing that specializes in technical programs and market intelligence.