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Pork consumption in China

June 18, 2007
By Pou In Kuan

ON AN AVERAGE DAY in China, approximately 1,703,975 pigs are consumed. According to a report by the United States Department of Agriculture, Chinese consumed 51 million metric tons of pork in 2006, roughly half of the world’s total pig consumption. The report also states that United States consumed around 8.6 million metric tons last year.

The average weight of a pig is 82 kg, so in 2006, Chinese ate about 621,951,219 pigs. Each of China’s 1.3 billion people consumed, on average, under half a pig.  Americans ate 104,878,048 pigs in 2006. With a population of 301,844,000, the average American ate the equivalent of about one-third of a pig during the year.
Pork is such an important part of Chinese diets that a rapid increase in pork prices in spring 2007 lifted May consumer prices 3.4%. Meat, mainly pork, prices rose 26.5% (MacDonald).

Meat consumption has risen dramatically in China over the past two decades. Just since 2003, pork consumption has risen 19% (Du). Pork's centrality to Chinese cooking is reflected in the fact that when people refer to meat, by default they mean pork. On a menu, dishes with pork simply say "meat." If the meat isn't pork, then an additional qualifier (cow - meat for beef, for example) is required.

Wayne Du, "Pork Consumption, Production, Import and Export in Selected Countries 1998-2002," Canadian Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs, July 2003, <>.

Joe MacDonald, "Soaring pork prices lift Chinese inflation," San Jose Mercury News, June 11, 2007. 

U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Livestock and Poultry: World Markets & Trade,” April 2007: <> accessed June 18, 2007.
Pou In Kuan is a Journalism student from Washington State University after which she intends to pursue a career in magazines or online media.