China tops list of global opportunities for Australian agriculture

​4 March 2014

China will account for close to half of the global increase in food demand by 2050, presenting opportunities for Australian agricultural exports.

Delegates at ABARES Outlook 2014 heard today that reducing import barriers in Asian countries and industry planning to account for changing Asian food demand would be central to the future success of Australian agriculture.

ABARES projects global food consumption to increase by 75 per cent between 2007 and 2050, with very significant market opportunities emerging in Asia, according to ABARES Chief Commodities Analyst Dr Jammie Penm.

“However there is no free ride for Australia. For many agricultural products, much of the increased consumption in Asia will be met through higher production in the countries themselves.

“In recent decades, Asia has accounted for over 50 per cent of growth in global agricultural production, supported by strong agricultural productivity growth, especially in China.”

Dr Penm said that with agricultural productivity growth flattening in Australia, industry and government would need to work carefully to ensure that available opportunities could be realised.

“China will be the country with the most significant growth in food consumption toward 2050, and domestic production increases in China will not be sufficient to meet new demand.

The real value of food consumption in China (net of inflation) is projected to rise 104 per cent between 2009 and 2050.

“Despite strong competition, Australia agriculture has very significant opportunities in China. The key for industry is to understand the market and plan accordingly.

Dr Penm said growth in Chinese food demand will be driven by consumption of high-value products, such as beef, sheep and goat meat, as well as dairy products.

“Urban consumers in China are also expected to increase spending on convenience foods, fast food and restaurant food.

“The share of food purchased in supermarkets will also increase. Planning for these markets will be essential to the future of our agricultural exports.”

The Future of agriculture session at Outlook 2014 included the release of What China wants: Analysis of China's food demand to 2050, available on ABARES website.
Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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