China welcomes competition from American beef imports

World Today

American beef is returning to China after being banned for 14 years. It comes as part of a China-U.S. trade deal. Chinese customers welcome more options on the table, while cattle ranchers prepare for the competition.

CGTN’s Jonathan Betz reports.

Banned in 2003 over fears of Mad Cow disease, American beef returned to China in June as part of a trade deal with the U.S.

At e-commerce giant, Alibaba, workers immediately sprang to action. Executives flew to Chicago to meet with American meat executives. The company heavily promoted the comeback on its websites, where millions of Chinese buy groceries.

Beef is a relatively new dish for China, with most people overwhelmingly preferring pork. But the hunger is growing, and the market is racing to keep up with demand.

In 2012, China imported $275 million worth of beef. Last year, that number swelled to $2.5 billion. It’s now the world’s fastest-growing market for meat.

Even though U.S. beef comes from further away, analysts said it’s often cheaper than Chinese beef. That’s largely because the American meat industry is so industrialized.

China still largely relies on individual ranches raising cattle on a small scale, something many experts said must change. Some places are already adapting. The Longjiang Wagyu Company in far northern China has focused on going upscale, ensuring their cattle are raised and slaughtered on site.

Currently, U.S. beef imports to China are small. American ranchers must meet strict Chinese government rules.