Growing Demand In China Dominates Global Beef Trade

Brazil currently ships about 22% of total exports to China


Derrell Peel - Oklahoma State University

via Drovers - September 16, 2019


China has replaced the U.S. as the world’s leading beef importer as  Chinese beef imports in 2018 exceeded total U.S. beef imports.  If Hong Kong is included along with mainland China, total China/Hong Kong imports were larger than U.S. beef imports beginning in 2017.


Total world beef imports have increased by 17.7% in the five years from 2015 to projected 2019 totals.  Over that same period, beef imports in China increased 153.4% along with a 62.2% increase in beef imports into Hong Kong leading to a 122.6% increase in beef imports in the China/Hong Kong region. By contrast total beef imports into the U.S. decreased by an estimated 12.3% over the 2015-2019 period.  Increased beef imports into China alone accounted for over 75% of the net increase in total world imports in this five-year period.


In 2015, China accounted for 8.7% of world beef imports, and including Hong Kong brought the 2015 share to 13.1%.  Total U.S. beef imports in 2015 accounted for 20.0% of global beef imports.  Projections for 2019 show China importing 18.7% of global beef imports and along with another 6.1% of imports into Hong Kong means that the China/Hong Kong region currently accounts for a 24.8% share of world beef imports.  U.S. beef imports are projected to account for 14.9% of world beef imports in 2019.


The rapid growth in Chinese beef imports has dramatically altered global beef flows with several countries now exporting a significant share of total exports to China. China receives the majority of beef imports from Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Australia, and New Zealand.


Number one beef exporter Brazil currently ships about 22% of total exports to China and accounts for 31% of total Chinese beef imports.  Brazil sends another 17% of beef exports to Hong Kong.  Uruguay is currently the eighth largest beef exporting country but sends about 70% of exports to China and accounts for 21% of Chinese beef imports. Argentina...