For the first time in history, China will produce more corn than rough rice, according to reports by the U.S. Grains Council, of which the National Corn Growers Association is a founding member.
This change, first projected in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate, comes as the growing affluence of the Chinese middle class spurs for a protein-rich diet.
The USDA report, which upwardly revised Chinese corn production projections by 300 million bushels, illustrate how the economic trends of the world's most populous country could create opportunities for well positioned corn producers.
"Dramatic shifts in corn production are taking place across the globe" said Kevin Roepke, USGC manager of Global Trade. "This is stark evidence that today's corn producer is well poised to take advantage of growing global consumerism."
Demand for meat in China experienced explosive growth over the past 20 years, with poultry consumption increasing by 300 percent. During that period, pork consumption increased by 85 percent, and beef consumption has increased 155 percent.
At the same time, demand in the United States has remained relatively static for pork and beef, which have risen only by six and three percent respectively. Only the poultry sector made major gains, but with only a 45 percent increase in demand, the gains seem paltry in comparison to those made in China.
Rice remains a dietary staple for more than two billion people, including India and China. As diets in China shift toward protein-rich foods, the livestock sector demand for feed ingredients such as corn will increase both in the United States for export and overseas for domestic industries.
The U.S. Grains Council has operated in China for more than 30 years with a country office located in Beijing specializing in technical demand building programs and market intelligence.