2022 statistics recap shows demographic headwinds but import opportunities in some food sectors
China’s National Bureau of Statistics released its major bulletin for economic, social, and political data for 2022.
GDP per capita was 85.7k yuan (USD 12.4k) and the population was 1.41 billion, a decrease of 850k compared to the previous year.
Compared with last year, the urban population increased by 6.5 million while the rural population now accounts for just over one-third of the population.
Demographics also face headwinds. The population of children aged 0-15 fell by 6.9 million, the working-age population fell 6.7 million, and the population over 60 rose by 12.7 million. Of that 12.7 million increase, 73% was people aged over 65.
Meat production rose by 3.8%. Pork saw the biggest increase but this pushed prices to extremely low levels which required government intervention twice in 2022.
With the shrinking population and high levels of per-capita pork consumption, pork production has likely peaked.
Beef production grew only 3% which continues to lag the growth in consumption, creating a long-term bullish case for increasing beef imports.
Milk production rose by 6.8%, but this also led to oversupply and farmers dumping milk towards the end of 2022.
Lastly, farmed aquaculture production continues to grow much faster than wild-caught aquaculture. This is a long-term positive for the aqua feed industry.
Grain and oilseed planted area rose by 700k hectares compared to 2021. The soybean planted area was reported as rising 1.83 million hectares. In contrast, the combined planted area for rice, wheat, and corn fell by only 0.77 million hectares, implying that 1.1 million hectares of soybeans were added in one year without taking land away from major staple grains.
Futures soften amid poor demand, weaker dollar
Agricultural futures in China largely fell on Tuesday, following a weaker international market overnight as CBOT futures closed sharply lower on Monday.
Futures for grains and oilseeds globally faced bearishness since last week due to the expectation of improved export conditions in the Black Sea market and slow US corn exports.
The US dollar also weakened against the Chinese renminbi marginally on Tuesday.
“US board fell and the exchange rate is back a little,” one trader commented, adding that “traders closed their long positions”.
Wheat, rapeseed crop condition better YoY: ministry
The condition of current winter wheat and rapeseed crops in China has improved year on year according to a recent survey from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.
The total planting areas for the two crops have grown steadily this year with the former reaching 330 million mu (22 million hectares).
The good-to-excellent rate of the current wheat crop is around 85-90% in northern and eastern China.