September 6, 2022

A general view of China's beef cattle industry

An eFeedLink Hot Topic


China's beef consumption has shown rapid growth in recent years, but the meat's output has not been able to meet local market demand.


For a long time, China has relied on imports to fill its huge beef shortages and its import dependency (total import /national output) is at 20%, far exceeding those of pork (5%). According to statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics, the country's beef cattle population totaled 98.17 million in 2021, a year-on-year increase of 2.7%. Release volumes reached 47.07 million, an increase of 1.42 million over 2020, hitting a new eight-year high.


In China, beef cattle farming can be segregated into four regions: central, northeast, northwest and southwest. By province, beef cattle inventories in Yunnan and Sichuan are between eight million and 10 million heads, while Inner Mongolia, Qinghai and Tibet have annual beef cattle inventories of 6-7 million heads. Annual beef cattle inventories in Heilongjiang, Hebei, Shandong, Gansu, Qinghai and Guizhou are between three million and five million heads. Sichuan leads with more than 8.8 million beef cattle, accounting for more than 9% of the national output. Yunnan and Inner Mongolia are ranked second and third, accounting for 9% and 7%, respectively, of the national output.


Farms in China's southwest region are generally small with large cattle inventories. In the northern parts, most farms are satellite farms with vast pastures.


The distribution of large-scale beef cattle breeding enterprises in China fits the aforementioned regional distributions. Currently, the 20 largest beef cattle farms are mainly located in the southwest, northwest and northeast, with a total inventory of 466,000 heads in 2020. The total inventory of these companies accounts for only 0.5% of the total cattle stock in China, indicating that small-scale farms remain prevalent in the Chinese beef cattle industry.


Among the companies, Chongqing Hengdu Agricultural Group is the largest beef cattle company in China. The vertically integrated enterprise has eight wholly-owned subsidiaries with businesses in forage farming, feed processing, breeding, cattle rearing, cattle trading, slaughtering, deep processing, market sales and technology research and development.


In Yunnan, a major beef cattle breeding province, Pengdu Agriculture and Animal Husbandry is the only company with the license to import beef cattle from Myanmar. Last June, the company received a ¥1.355 billion investment from Yunnan to develop the province's beef cattle industry.


- Shi Tao, eFeedLink

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