China has long been the world’s largest food producer. But as it has principally be driven by the need to be self sufficient, it has not been either a major importer or exporter. However China holds by far the largest stock of grain. Well over half of total global stocks and six times as much as the USA.
It has often been wondered how much of China’s grain stock is real. Various audits over the years have discovered the grain to be inedible, or just not there. But give than China was largely self sufficient in grain, it was relatively unimportant to the rest of the world. This changed with the outbreak of African Swine Flu (ASF). ASF decimated the Chinese pig herd, and led to a substantial spike in Chinese imports of pork. As the Chinese pig herd has been rebuilt, imports of pork have fallen back to normal levels.
The rebuilding of pig herd has also made China require a big increase in imports of coarse grain (corn, sorghum and barley) used as feed for livestock. China has become the largest importer of grain in recent years.
Listen to this episode with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Capital Flows and Asset Markets to listen to this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.