The Chinese Diet: Cutting Soybean Meal

Sep 27, 2022

The Chinese are going on a diet—cutting soybean meal consumption in an effort to boost national food security. And it all starts with animal feed.

Pork prices have consumers squealing. ICYMI, pork is the most consumed meat in China. Higher feed prices along with inflation have increased the cost of pork, thanks to price hikes the last three months.

One way to begin lowering consumer meat prices and increase national food security? Curb soybean dependence.

Earning (figurative) gold stars: The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MOA) called out leading hog and pork producer Muyuan Foods Co. and the nation’s major feedstock producer, New Hope Liuhe, as companies who have successfully cut soybean meal usage.

Muyuan saved 1.3M tons compared to the average by using 6.9% of soybean meal in its feed for hog breeding last year. Meanwhile, New Hope Liuhe dropped its usage 4.6% lower than the industry average, and reduced bean meal consumption by 1.3M tons.

How are they doing it? Adding synthetic amino acids and using fermentation to bump up nutrition levels.

No small effort: In 2021, the nationwide soy ratio in animal feed hit 15.3% compared to 17.8% in 2017. That’s 11M tons of bean meal, equal to 14M tons of soybeans.

This is kind of a big deal, as China is the largest importer of soybeans on the planet. In 2021, their import bill was over $50B.

Farmers who rely on Chinese demand for their soybeans are worried. Last year, China imported 85% of their beans, including 58.15M tons from Brazil (60.2% of total imports) and 32.31M tons from the U.S. (33.5%). We can expect these numbers to slip this year.