Corn overtakes rice as leading foodstuff

Updated: 2013-04-11 13:16

By Zheng Yangpeng (China Daily)

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CASS figures also show nation's agri trade deficit up 44 percent to $48.9b

Corn overtook rice as the largest food product in China for the first time last year, according to a Chinese Academy for Social Sciences report released on Wednesday.

Domestic corn production grew 8 percent to 208 million metric tons, while rice output edged up just 1.6 percent to 204 million tons.

Another major grain, wheat, grew 2.7 percent, said the report, which is conducted by Rural Development Institute under CASS.

China also imported 5.2 million metric tons of corn in 2012, up 197.1 percent over the previous year, while rice imports surged 296.2 percent to 2.37 million metric tons.

However, the rises in the major grain products helped push up China's total agricultural products trade deficit by 44 percent to $48.94 billion last year.

Measured by weight, this meant that China's net grain imports passed 70 million metric tons last year, meaning the country's grain self-sufficiency rate dropped to 98 percent.

The report attributed the surge in corn demand to rapid development of husbandry and demand from industrial processing.

China's agricultural products dependency on international markets reached 21.1 percent in 2012, up from 20.7 percent in 2011.

Guo Wei, director of the rural branch of the National Policy Research Office at the State Council, said that as China's food dependency on the international market has risen in past years, people should be made aware of the issue of food security.

"China's foodstuffs demand has expanded fast mainly because food has been used for purposes other than basic feeding," said Guo.

For example, while Chinese grain consumption has been reduced to 60 percent of 1990's level, meat consumption has risen 44.7 percent compared to 1990, and poultry consumption has risen 209 percent, and milk consumption by 296 percent, compared to then.

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