Pur­suit of tastier, health­ier food turns meaty in Qing­dao

Ris­ing af­flu­ence of Chi­nese middle class, health aware­ness help ex­pand meat trade

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Business - By YANG FEIYUE in Qing­dao yangfeiyue@chi­nadaily.com.cn YANG FEIYUE / CHINA DAILY

Chefs cook

Con­sump­tion up­grade, health con­scious­ness and pur­suit of a bet­ter qual­ity of life are all spurring in­no­va­tion and ex­pan­sion of meat trade in China — and Liao Xi­up­ing, in her 30s, a bank em­ployee in Qing­dao, Shan­dong prov­ince, — would vouch for it.

She vis­ited an in­ter­na­tional meat ex­hi­bi­tion in her home­town on Oct 18. The three-day event, jointly hosted by the China Meat As­so­ci­a­tion and the France-based In­ter­na­tional Meat So­ci­ety, brought to­gether ma­jor meat in­dus­try play­ers from home and abroad. They all dis­played and sold their lat­est prod­ucts.

That’s when Liao re­al­ized Chi­nese con­sumers can now buy a wide range of meat prod­ucts, in­clud­ing nov­el­ties.

“My fam­ily loves meat dishes, and I’ve come to see if I could buy new and qual­ity prod­ucts. I’m pleased to see there’s a lot avail­able here,” Liao said at the ex­hi­bi­tion.

That’s high praise from a con­nois­seur of meat prod­ucts. Liao reg­u­larly buys pre­mium meat from well-known do­mes­tic pro­duc­ers as well as im­porters who sell through on­line mar­ket­places JD and Tmall.

“Meat is an im­por­tant el­e­ment on our fam­ily din­ing ta­ble, and I want to make sure it’s nu­tri­tious and safe for my child,” Liao said.

In re­cent years, middle-class par­ents such as Liao, flush with ris­ing dis­pos­able in­comes and health aware­ness, are stok­ing in­creas­ing de­mand for qual­ity meat in China.

Meat im­ports have been steadily ris­ing from 2014 on­ward, ac­cord­ing to the CMA.

Last year, China im­ported 4.67 mil­lion tons of meat, up 63.4 per­cent year-on-year.

“Our meat im­ports grew by more than 55 times from 1992 to 2016, and more than dou­bled com­pared to 2010,” said Gao Guan, deputy sec­re­tary­gen­eral of the CMA.

China’s an­nual meat con­sump­tion has reached 90 mil­lion tons (or 66 kg per per­son per year), he said, adding that the fig­ure is ex­pected to reach 100 mil­lion tons by 2020.

The po­ten­tial has drawn at­ten­tion of many meat pro­duc­ers abroad.

“We’ve ex­ported a lot of pork to China of late. Its value was about 700 mil­lion euros ($824.81 mil­lion) in 2016,” said Jos Goebbels, pres­i­dent of the Dutch Meat As­so­ci­a­tion. meat for vis­i­tors at an in­ter­na­tional meat ex­hi­bi­tion in Qing­dao, Shan­dong prov­ince, on Oct 18. The three-day ex­hi­bi­tion brought to­gether ma­jor meat in­dus­try play­ers from home and abroad.

The DMA has been do­ing busi­ness in China since 2012 and saw vol­umes in­crease ten­fold over the past few years.

“Our prod­ucts can be found in su­per­mar­kets and restau­rants (in China),” Goebbels said.

He at­trib­uted the suc­cess to Dutch pork’s con­sis­tency in qual­ity. The DMA would start ex­port­ing beef as well to China soon.

It has signed a co­op­er­a­tion agree­ment with its Chi­nese coun­ter­part, the CMA, and both sides would set up a Joint Meat Co­op­er­a­tion Cen­ter, and en­gage in pork and beef qual­ity con­trol and mar­ket in­for­ma­tion ex­change.

The in­creas­ing de­mand for bet­ter meat has also spurred do­mes­tic pro­duc­ers to make ef­forts to come up with suit­able sup­plies .

For in­stance, Lon Food Co has ap­plied Chi­nese vet­eri­nar­ian ap­proach to rais­ing its pigs.

“We’ve used more than 100 nat­u­ral plants to de­velop cus­tom-made feed­stuff for our pig­gies,” said Wang Yang, gen­eral man­ager of the com­pany.

“In­gre­di­ents vary with sea­sons and lo­ca­tions to en­sure ideal pig devel­op­ment.”

The method avoids use of an­tibi­otics and pro­duces meat fea­tur­ing rich or high un­sat­u­rated fatty acid, Wang said.

In ad­di­tion, Lon Food has taken con­trol of an­i­mal feed­stuff, rais­ing and slaugh­ter­ing to en­sure its meat has top qual­ity.

Now, the com­pany has 150,000-200,000 pigs and mar­ket sales are brisk, de­spite the prod­uct price be­ing roughly twice that of its do­mes­tic coun­ter­parts.

“We’ve to base sales on prod­ucts at the mo­ment, since we’ve sold what we had,” Wang said.

The com­pany is now build­ing its own pig farms to in­crease fu­ture sup­ply.

Other meat pro­duc­ers are also step­ping up ef­forts to en­sure top qual­ity.

New Hope Li­uhe Co, a ma­jor an­i­mal feed and agri­cul­tural prod­ucts maker, is build­ing a trace­abil­ity sys­tem for all of its ma­jor prod­ucts.

Some of its high-end prod­ucts have a QR code on the pack­age that leads to in­for­ma­tion on an­i­mal feeder and slaugh­ter­ing, pro­duc­tion and ex­piry date.

“It will en­able con­sumers to know every­thing about the prod­ucts that con­cern them, so they would feel safe while buy­ing,” said Li Ji, brand mar­ket­ing gen­eral man­ager with New Hope Li­uhe.

“If some­thing comes up in the prod­ucts they buy, it would be eas­ier to trace back to the prob­lem, which en­sures food safety,” said Li.

The com­pany has set up a food safety man­age­ment team of 2,000 spe­cial­ists. Its trace­abil­ity sys­tem re­ceived recog­ni­tion of the Min­istry of In­dus­try and In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy in Au­gust.

New Hope Li­uhe has also con­ducted tests on more than 350,000 sam­ples to en­sure top qual­ity of raw ma­te­rial and fin­ished prod­ucts, ac­cord­ing Deng Cheng, its CEO.

In ad­di­tion to qual­ity con­trol, some en­ter­prises have di­ver­si­fied their prod­ucts to serve va­ri­ety-crav­ing con­sumers.

Shuanghui Group, the coun­try’s largest meat-pro­cess­ing com­pany, launched more than 180 new prod­ucts at the Qing­dao ex­hi­bi­tion.

“In ad­di­tion to West­ern and Amer­i­can-styled meat prod­ucts, we made a point of de­vel­op­ing leisure prod­ucts,” said Du Junfu, vice-pres­i­dent of Shuanghui In­vest­ment and Devel­op­ment Co.

Such leisure (or in­stant or ready-to-eat) prod­ucts fea­ture meat com­bined with other foods such as eggs, dairy and veg­eta­bles.

“They are easy to carry and in­stantly edi­ble, and mainly in­tended for trav­el­ers, women and chil­dren,” Du said.

“For ex­am­ple, some sausage is stuffed with bone soup, which sat­is­fies cus­tomers’ needs in terms of well-bal­anced nutri­tion.”

So far, sales of such novel prod­ucts are up to the com­pany’s ex­pec­ta­tion, Du said.

He prob­a­bly has con­sumers such as Qing­dao meat maven Liao to thank for be­ing able to make such head­way.

Liao bought a bag of beef from In­ner Mon­go­lia au­ton­o­mous re­gion, a few Shuanghui sausages and sev­eral meat cook­ing in­gre­di­ents dur­ing her half-a-day visit to the ex­hi­bi­tion.

“Many booths of­fer tast­ing, and some are re­ally good. I’ve put down a few prod­uct names and would try them in the fu­ture,” Liao said.

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