China's soy crushing industry impacts on global sustainability agenda

20 June 2017

Following China’s “Open and Reform” period in the mid 1970s, the feed sector was endorsed by the Chinese government as a key industry to transition to the consumption of a more protein-rich diet of meat, poultry and dairy. The feed industry grew rapidly in the following two decades placing greater demand on China’s grain supply.

The usage of soy in China shifted from feeding people directly to feeding China’s growing feed and livestock sectors. Despite maintaining a strict grain self-sufficiency policy, the feed sector’s heavy demand of raw materials raised concerns over China’s grain supply and food security. In 1995, the Chinese government changed the rate of grain self-sufficiency from 100% to 95%, to start importing more grain products. Soybeans became the single most liberalized crop, leading to a surge in China’s soy imports.