Since 2019, China has been the world’s largest importer of meat.

Compared to the United States, China’s per-capita meat consumption is low, but it is steadily increasing, according to research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. As demand increases in China, American producers may benefit.

The amount of meat China imports has increased substantially, according to the USDA. In 2000, about 1% of its meat supply was imported. This year, it’s about 8%.

Only the U.S. has a larger meat supply than China. Historically, the U.S. wasn’t a major trade partner, but that could change as China produces less and Chinese citizens demand more.

An African swine fever epidemic severely reduced China’s domestic pig supply, forcing many consumers to switch to beef. Last year, about a third of China’s beef came from different countries.

Ryan Murphy is a Gary Marx Journalism Fund intern.

Type of work:

Explainer A data-driven story that provides background, definition and detail on a specific topic.