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Summary of consumption changes of meat and dairy products in China over 22 years

Photo: Jonathan Kos-Read, Meat, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
Photo: Jonathan Kos-Read, Meat, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0

This short article runs through consumption data on meat and dairy products in China in urban and rural areas in 1990, 2002 and 2012. It uses data from the National Bureau of Statistics of China and the National Nutrition Survey.

While it mentions a household survey conducted in 31 provinces, it does not state how many participants there were. Overall, it notes increasing dairy and meat intakes in all areas and particular growth of meat and dairy consumption in rural areas.


The objective of the present paper was to review the consumption status of meat and dairy products among Chinese residents. The research topics included production, consumption and health implications of dairy and meat, and the data sources included reports of national surveys, research papers and data from the National Bureau of Statistics of China. The average intake of meat, especially pork, has continued to increase in China. Pork intake increased from 37·1 g/d in 1992 to 64·3 g/d in 2012. There was a much higher margin in rural regions; pork intake of rural residents increased from 25·0 g/d in 1992 to 59·9 g/d in 2012, which resulted in a narrowed gap between urban and rural areas. Although the average intake of dairy products increased from 14·9 g/d in 1992 to 24·7 g/d in 2012, the overall level was still lower. There was a significant difference of dairy consumption between urban and rural residents. The gap of per capita consumption of milk between urban and rural households was 3·5 kg/year in 1990, reached the maximum of 16·9 kg/year in 2003, then decreased to 8·7 kg/year in 2012. In conclusion, the finding of this review sheds light on some problems with food consumption patterns in China. Effective strategies need to be adopted in order to change the consumption patterns. The consumption of milk and replacing pork with poultry or fish or other health foods should be encouraged.


He, Y., Yang, X., Xia, J., Zhao, L., & Yang, Y. (2016). Consumption of meat and dairy products in China: a review. The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 75(3), 385.

To access the paper, look here (paywall).

Another article in this week’s Fodder looks at greenhouse gas emissions from pig and poultry production sectors in China over 50 years. This 2014 FCRN report is relevant too: Appetite for Change: social, economic and environmental transformations in China’s food system. You can also read the 9 briefing papers that distil and summarise the report's main messages.

You can read more in the Research Library categories on: Animal issues; Meat, eggs and alternatives as well as the keyword categories: Chicken/poultry; Other meat types; Milk; livestock systems.

You can read related research by browsing the following categories of our research library: Primary production: agriculture; Climate change: Mitigation; Agricultural and aquatic systems; Global.

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