From The Ground Up: China Opens Market to U.S. Beef

In 2003, when the U.S. detected one case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly referred to as BSE or mad cow disease in a dairy cow, China halted all beef imports from the United States. Agreements are expected to be in place by July 16th to resume imports of U.S. beef to China, opening a huge potential market to U.S. producers. David Anderson is a Texas A&M Agrilife economist.

“So even from 2003 to 2017 where we are today, when they quit buying our beef. The growth in their economy, if you think about that 14-year period, 15-year period, at 7% growth in their GNP every year, that’s huge growth in their economy. While they were growing, the amount of growth that they’ve had since then makes that a completely different market, I think, than it was in 2003 when they were still buying beef.”

Anderson points out that the population of the U.S. is roughly 330 million, while China’s population is 1.3 billion.

“So that’s more than 3 times our population if we think about it that way. If we put it in beef terms, we exported last year, we think we’re going to export about 2.6 billion pounds of beef this year. They have 1.3 billion people. So if they all ate, which would be a lot of beef, if all of the sudden everybody in China ate one pound of beef, per year, that’s the equivalent of 50% of our beef exports. That’s the equivalent of 5% of our total beef production this year.”

Anderson notes that just the Chinese middle class could be a huge potential market for American beef.

“And even if their middle class alone which is equal to, actually bigger than the size of the U.S. and our population, if they ate 1 pound, that’s 300, 400 million pounds of beef. That’s a lot of beef.”