Consumers in the United States consume 53 pounds of pork per capita per year. Forty percent of that pork enters the market by way of a contract with a packer or an integrated supply chain arrangement. Chinese consumers consume 37 pounds per capita. Eighty percent of that pork is produced in the backyards of millions of households all over the countryside. The supply chain that brings pork from hog to human is clearly different in these two countries, but both are moving in the same direction. In the United States, pork breeding produced leaner but heavier hogs by the late 1990's. This was largely in response to consumer demand for leaner meat and processors demand for less waste. Stricter sanitation regulation and quality control by food manufacturers led to a more integrated supply chain. Food companies contract with farmers for hogs with particular characteristics being demanded by consumers and retailers. Half of fresh pork and forty percent of processed pork is sold through foodservice establishments in the U.S. Consumers need for time-saving food is revealed by the portion of pork they eat away from home (42% of $35 billion sales) and by the mix of fresh (27%) and processed (73%) pork purchased in retail stores. The emphasis in the U.S. supply chain for pork is on delivering consistent quality of safe meat to consumers all the time. There is considerable research into new pork products. The top ten processing plants handle 43 percent of the total output. China is the largest pork producer in the world slaughtering 526.7 million hogs in 2000, over five times as many as the United States. Although commercial operations and specialized households are growing they provide only about twenty percent of all China's pork. Lower quality and sanitation standards prevent pork produced in backyards from entering the westernized/commercial supply chain but it is an important source of meat in the inland and rural areas of China. Coastal cities have more commercial and imported pork. For example, in Beijing sixty percent of production is from commercial farms. The advent of retail supermarkets and higher incomes in China foretell an increase in commercial pork operations. Direct foreign investment by key Western food companies and retailers are leading the standards for food safety and handling in the larger cities. Based on current pork consumption at various income levels, it is estimated that pork consumption will grow more than seven percent in Chinese cities and 1.5 percent in the countryside over the next ten years. This translates into an additional 12 million pounds of pork in 2011 with the urban consumption surpassing the rural consumption. The pork industry will be driven to emphasize quality, sanitation, and convenience in China as they already do in the United States. With China entering the World Trade Organization (WTO) more pork imports can be expected. Exports will depend on meeting the quality and safety standards of importing countries.

Issue Date:
Publication Type:
Working or Discussion Paper
PURL Identifier:
Total Pages:
Series Statement:
Working Paper 02-01

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2017-04-04

Download fulltext

Rate this document:

Rate this document:
(Not yet reviewed)