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China’s food security challenge is chronic, not acute

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Significance

Massive pig losses from African swine fever have reduced pork supplies and raised meat prices. The COVID-19 lockdown took a temporary toll on China’s internal distribution of food supplies and farm inputs. Disruption of food imports due to pandemic-related supply chain disruption remains a risk. President Xi Jinping recently warned that China must “must maintain a sense of crisis about food security”.

Impacts

  • China has achieved a very high degree of food self-sufficiency for decades; there is no reason to doubt that this will continue.
  • The pandemic and strained China-US relations fundamentally alter the context of Beijing’s future food security strategy.
  • China’s shift towards a protein-rich, toxin-free diet will affect imports of meat for human consumption, and corn and soya for animal feed.
  • Labour and land pressures will mean more capital-intensive production, application of biotechnology, and scaling-up of production.
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