BlueWeave Consulting, a leading strategic consulting and market research firm, in its recent study, estimated the China meat market size at USD 73.79 billion in 2022. During the forecast period between 2023 and 2029, BlueWeave expects the China meat market size to expand at a CAGR of 19.2% reaching a value of USD 253.63 billion by 2029. The meat market in China is estimated to be the largest in the world, making over 20% of global sales. Chinese meat consumers are now beginning to experiment with new trends across the nation, including premium and organic goods, offering strong growth prospects for foreign companies interested in entering the sector. Pork, cattle, poultry, as well as other meats including lamb, goat, and fish, are all produced and eaten in China by the country’s meat industry. Pork and poultry have always been the most popular meats in China, in part because of their low cost and abundant availability. Over the past few decades, China’s meat business has expanded significantly due to changing dietary preferences, urbanization, and rising wages. A total of 92.27 million tons of meat were produced in the nation in 2022, up 3.8% from the year before. Particularly, the output of pork has increased quickly, rising from over 40 million tons in 1990 to more than 55.41 million tons in 2022. Comparatively, but more slowly, the production of beef and poultry has also expanded substantially over the previous few decades. As a result of all these factors, the China meat market is expected to grow significantly during the projected period.
Opportunity: Thriving tourism sector of China
The thriving tourism sector in China is poised to be a significant catalyst for the growth of the meat market over the period in analysis. According to data from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) in 2023, China’s Travel & Tourism sector is expected to experience remarkable growth, with an expected GDP contribution increase of over 150% compared to the previous year. This sector is anticipated to contribute CNY 9.9 trillion to the economy, approaching levels seen in the pre-pandemic year of 2019, when it reached CNY 12.27 trillion. The resurgence of the tourism industry in China signals a surge in domestic and international visitors, ultimately driving greater demand for meat products in various culinary experiences, hotels, restaurants, and catering services, thereby bolstering the growth of the meat market. Furthermore, tourists, whether they are from within China or international, often look forward to exploring diverse culinary experiences and trying local and regional dishes. Many of these dishes incorporate a wide variety of meat types, reflecting the rich and diverse culinary traditions found throughout China. As a result, restaurants and eateries across the country are encouraged to expand their menus and offer a broad range of meat-based options. This culinary diversity not only enhances the overall tourist experience but also significantly contributes to the growth and development of the meat market in China. In simpler terms, the tourism boom means more people are coming to China and wanting to try different local foods, including meat dishes. Restaurants are responding by offering a wider variety of meat options to satisfy the diverse tastes of tourists. This helps boost the meat market in China as it aligns with the changing preferences of a growing number of visitors.
Beef Meat Segment Holds Largest Market Share by Cuts Type
Based on the cuts type, the China meat market is segmented into Beef Meat, Lamb, Pork. The beef meat segment holds the largest market share. A high surge in beef prices and a surge in beef imports into China are the results of rising domestic demand for beef and limited growth in domestic output. About 20 nations, including Ireland, France, the United States, and the UK, have received market access from China in the previous two to three years for the export of beef. The beef meat segment further segmented into chuck, ribeye, sirloin, tenderloin, and flank. The chuck segment holds significant growth as it is generally more affordable compared to premium cuts like sirloin or tenderloin, making it accessible to a wider range of consumers. Additionally, Chinese cuisine often involves slow-cooking or stir-frying methods that suit the chuck’s texture and flavour, making it a versatile choice for a variety of dishes. As per the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, China’s official beef consumption in 2022 reached 8.33 million tons, marking a per capita consumption of 5.95 kg which shows a notable increase from the 4.88 kg per capita consumption in 2016 which influenced the growth of these segments over the forecast period.
Beef Meat Segment Holds Largest Market Share by Breed Subtypes
Based on the breed subtypes, the China meat market is segmented into Beef Meat, Lamb, and Pork. The beef meat segment holds the largest market share. The beef meat in the breed subtypes further segmented into angus beef and wagyu beef. Angus beef segment shows a prominent growth as it is generally more affordable than Wagyu beef, making it accessible to a wider consumer base. Angus beef has gained popularity for its excellent balance of tenderness and flavour, appealing to both local and international palates. Additionally, Angus cattle are well-suited to China’s climate and farming conditions, leading to more consistent production. While Wagyu beef is renowned for its marbling and premium quality, its higher cost and specialized production make it less common and more niche in the Chinese market, resulting in Angus beef’s significant market share.
Impact of COVID-19 on the China Meat Market
The COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact on the meat market in China. The COVID-19 pandemic severely disrupted China’s meat market supply chain and reduced the demand for the meat. Lockdowns, movement restrictions, and labour shortages created significant disruptions in both meat production and distribution. These disruptions led to supply shortages and price hikes for specific meat products, impacting consumers and businesses alike. China’s stringent “zero-COVID-19” policy had widespread repercussions on global supply chains, characterized by extensive lockdowns in major cities—a situation previously considered unimaginable. These pandemic-related measures substantially curtailed China’s manufacturing capabilities, disrupted logistical operations, constrained human mobility, and eroded both business and consumer confidence. The emergence of the Omicron variant triggered an extended 70-day lockdown in Shanghai, China’s economic epicentre. This had unprecedented consequences for supply chains, as Shanghai not only serves as an industrial hub but also occupies a central role in the Yangtze Delta Region. This region comprises a vast network of interconnected cities and towns integral to supply chain operations, with goods flowing to the world through Shanghai’s top-tier seaports and airports. In line with these disruptions, the 2021 China Fishery Report by USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service revealed a continued struggle for China’s processed seafood trade. During the first ten months of 2021, China witnessed a significant 16% decline in seafood imports compared to the preceding year. These issues persisted from 2020, when seafood import volumes dropped by 12.8% to 3.81 million metric tons (MMT), with values plummeting by 19.5% to USD 12.43 billion. A similar trend affected China’s seafood exports, which declined from 4.02 MMT in 2019 to 3.57 MMT in 2020, with export values falling from USD 19.22 billion to USD 17.62 billion, showcasing the pandemic’s lingering impacts on China’s processed seafood trade.
The Meat market is fragmented, with numerous players serving the market. The key players dominating the China Meat market are WH Group Limited, Tyson Foods, Inc., Cargill Inc., New Hope Group Co., Ltd, COFCO Corporation, Yurun Holding Group Co., Ltd., Zhucheng Waimao Co. Ltd, Hormel Foods Corporation, Parker International LLC, Migliorini, and Muyuan Food Co. Ltd. The key marketing strategies adopted by the players are facility expansion, product diversification, alliances, collaborations, partnerships, and acquisition to expand their customer reach and gain a competitive edge in the overall market.
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