Major new report on China’s Food System

Tuesday, March 4, 2014 - 11:00

Dr Tara Garnett, who runs the Food Climate Research Network, has brought out a major new report on the social, economic and environmental transformations in China’s food system.

Appetite for Change provides a detailed and integrative analysis of the dramatic changes in China’s food system over the last 35 years, and explores the linkages among the environmental, health, economic and cultural trends that are emerging.

The major changes include:

  • A large increase in the volume and diversity of foods produced, with particularly rapid growth in the livestock, aquaculture and horticultural sectors, and a rapidly growing food processing sector
  • Changes in supply chains,  including a gradual scaling up of production operations and various forms of horizontal and vertical integration in some supply chains
  • Growth of new forms of food retailing, including the emergence of supermarkets, convenience and fast food catering sectors
  • Greater international engagement, including imports (notably soy for livestock feed) and  growing horticultural and aquaculture exports, as well as inward investment by overseas manufacturers and retailers and outward investment in food production and processing overseas
  • Rapid growth in incomes and urbanisation have led to significant changes in what people eat: diets are more diverse, consumption of animal products and processed foods has risen substantially, and there has been a growth in eating out of the home.

The report underlines the point that there is no one ‘food system’ in China, but rather a diversity of ‘food systems’. Smallholder agriculture and traditional wet markets coexist with large-scale industrialised production and a burgeoning supermarket sector; China’s appetite for eating out embraces a broad range of catering formats and food types. There are also substantial variations by region, between rural and urban areas and by socio-economic status.

Read the full report on the FCRN website.

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