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China Makes Strides in Organic Food Industry

China is poised to become an emerging power in the global organic food industry. Although home to a fifth of the world’s population, China has just over 1% of global organic farmland. The country is however making large strides by becoming a leading organic food exporter.

China leads Asia in certified organic farmland with roughly 300,000 hectares. Much of this is used to produce organic vegetables, beans, cereals, grains and seeds for export markets. The importance of exports has led a large number of international agencies to provide certification services in the country. Organic crops are grown according to American, European and Japanese standards.

Chinese producers have been most successful in the European market where they have become established suppliers of organic ingredients. China is now the premier non-EU source of organic beans and edible seeds to Western Europe. Chinese companies dominate the supply of organic pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, kidney beans and black beans.

Chinese companies are also making inroads in the organic soya bean market; They now supply over a third of the organic soya beans used by European food processors. The high market share is partly due to poor harvests in South America, especially Brazil. The quality of Chinese soya beans has increased significantly in recent years. Organic food companies in Europe also favour Chinese soya beans because of GM concerns about soya beans from North America.

With the Chinese government pledging more support for the organic food industry, production of organic crops is expected to rise. Greater demand is likely from the domestic market as standards of living and purchasing power of Chinese consumers rise. However, most certified organic foods will continue to be produced for the export market as long as they continue to generate hard currency for the emerging economic power.

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Posted: March 18th 2005


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