Bloomberg News

China Seen Needing ‘Huge Effort’ to Meet Increasing Corn Demand

September 29, 2011

(Adds Vice Minister’s comment in fourth paragraph.)

Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) -- China, the world’s second-biggest user and producer of corn, will need a “huge effort” to meet growing demand as consumers eat more meat products, the Ministry of Agriculture said.

Consumption of corn, including use in animal feed and industrial products, will increase significantly and the government must closely monitor the industry, Vice Minister Chen Xiaohua said at a press conference in Beijing today.

Corn costs in China have surged to near a record as high pork prices stoked expansion of hog herds. Potential shortages may boost imports, supporting prices in Chicago, which have slumped 18 percent this month on concern global growth may slow.

“To maintain balanced supply and demand for corn, we must fundamentally develop production,” Chen said. The government will also “control and curb” industrial processing, he said.

China’s corn harvest may climb 3.5 percent from last year to 179 million metric tons, while planted area increased 2.8 percent, researcher Cngrain.com said on its website Sept. 21.

Annual Imports may surge to 20 million metric tons in 10 years if domestic output fails to increase adequately, Fan Zhenyu, an executive at the country’s biggest grain trader Cofco Ltd., said last week. Imports last year were 1.6 million tons, the most in more than 10 years, customs data show.

China is also “experimenting” with the use of genetically modified corn to help lift output, Chen said. The government has already approved the safety of the strain, he said, without elaborating.

--William Bi. Editor: James Poole

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: William Bi in Beijing at wbi@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Richard Dobson at rdobson4@bloomberg.net


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