China accounts for 22% of the world population but only 7% of the global arable land. Progressive urbanization and rapid industrialization since 1949 led to the loss of one-fifth of the arable land. Recently, the infestation of African swine flu killed 40% of China’s pig population, and the fall armyworm and locusts devoured millions of acres of crops including corn, rice, sorghum, etc. in a short span of time. Also, the recent flooding by the Yangtze River affected 13 million acres of cropland with an estimated $21 billion in damages. These problems brought a historic rise of food prices in China.
The ruling Communist Party have initiated the “clean plate” campaign in order to curb wastage of food and to livestream extreme eaters. In mid-August, Xinhua published President Xi Jinping urging citizens to stop wasting food. The government have issued warning of punishment for those who do not follow the set guidelines, and penalize any behavior of food-wasting. This prompted food associations’ encouraging restaurants to sell less food to customer. According to independent studies, Chinese consumers wasted 18 million tons of food each year since 2013 which is enough to feed over 30 million people per annum.
These incidents have led China to increase its import of meat and grain in significant measures. The imports of animals and vegetables and its products have increased fivefold in the first half of 2020 when compared with the same period in 2019; which translates into an increase of nearly $20 billion in expenses so far in 2020. This increased demand for food may help U.S. farmers who hope to get an additional $12.5 billion in agricultural purchases from Beijing this year.
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