Overview of China's 2020 Agricultural Outlook Conference

On April 20th, the Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Affairs (MARA) held its yearly Agricultural Outlook Conference. The conference has been held continuously since 2014. The China Agricultural Outlook Report (2020-2029), from now on, referred to as the report, was released this conference and accounts as one of the most important conferences to predicted and understand China's agricultural production this year and the next ten years. Read below the key messages of the report.

2020 China Agricultural Outlook Conference

On Food Imports and Consumer Trends

It is expected that the amount and quality of agricultural products such as rice, wheat flour, oil, meat, egg, milk, fruits, vegetables, and fish will increase in 2020. In addition, urban and rural consumer trends, demands of high-quality, nutritious, and more diverse produce will become increasingly important and visible. 

On Pork Production and Price

The report predicts that due to the African swine fever and COVID-19, China's pork production will decline this year to 39.34 million tons, a 7.5% decrease from the previous year. The pork market will continue to be tight, and the price of live pigs will remain high. However, the report also predicts that pork production capacity will return to its 2016-2018 level in 2022. Thereafter, the market will show a steady growth trend. In 2029, it is expected that pork production will reach 59.72 million tons. 

Pork consumption demand and supply will keep fluctuating synchronously, and the per capita consumption of pork is expected to reach 42.3 kg in 2029. Due to the tight domestic supply, pork imports are expected to reach a record high and maintain a high level in the early stages of the outlook. But imports will continue to decline as production increases in the middle and late stages. Pork imports will drop to about 1.2 million tons in 2029.

On Agricultural Production

From a price perspective, the report predicts that the prices of agricultural products are expected to rise in general, and the risk of high fluctuations in some varieties will increase further. The prices of rice and wheat are expected to fluctuate slightly, and there is a risk of international price transmission. The tight supply and demand relationship of corn is expected to strengthen the overall price. The international factors of the price fluctuation of agricultural products such as soybean, cotton, sugar, and edible vegetable oil are expected to be more prominent.

The trend of high pork prices will subsequently drive up livestock and poultry prices. In addition, prices of vegetables and fruits are expected to fluctuate greatly, due to seasonal and other environmental factors. Therefore, regional, inter-variety, and quality-price differences will also become increasingly obvious. 

On Self-Sufficiency

The report states that China is basically self-sufficient when talking about grain supply. In recent years, China's grain production was stable with outputs of above 650 million tons for five consecutive years. In 2019, the harvest is expected to be 660 million tons, a record high.

In 2019, the total value of China's three major grain imports reached a total value of 10.65 million tons, accounting for no more than 1.9% of China's total domestic consumption. In addition, China's rice and wheat stocks meet consumer demand for more than a year.

The report also states that in the next 10 years, the rice yield will stabilize at over 200 million tons, with an average annual growth rate of 0.6%, the wheat yield will grow with 0.13% yearly, and the corn yield will grow with 2.7% annually. 

On International Relations

China's trade partnerships with the United States, Brazil, ASEAN, the European Union, and Australia as well as "One Belt, One Road" countries will be further strengthened. Wheat and corn imports are expected to grow with 67.1% and 74.6% respectively but remain within the import quota. Soybean imports are expected to reach 99.52 million tons, an increase of 7.5%. 

This article is an adaption from an article by Caixin Magazine, published on April 22nd , original title: 权威定调: 2020年猪肉减产7.5%,未来十年中国主粮供给安全.

For conference replay in both Chinese and English see the official 2020 China Agricultural Outlook Conference website.

Read here the full China Agriculture Outlook Report (2020-2029), Chinese only.