Why Chinese Consumption Will Disproportionally Benefit Agricultural Commodities

Spacewar reports about food consumption.

(emphasis mine) [my comment]

Moreover, China's 1.3 billion people are not very big consumers. More than 40 percent of incomes go into savings ["savings" = US debt via foreign reserves. This is a warning flag that the yuan is hugely undervalued.], which is fine for future economic growth (or it would be, if local bank interest rates were not lower than the rising level of inflation). But this does not help make up for the faltering American consumer, who used to devote some 70 percent of national income to consumption.

The soaring cost of food is also eating further into the Chinese propensity to consume and is having sobering effects on the other emerging economies.

According to data for 2005 from the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization in Rome,
high-income countries like the United States and Germany spend about 10 percent to 15 percent of household incomes on food. Medium-income countries like Brazil and Russia spend from 25 percent to 35 percent of household income on food, and low-income countries spend far more. China spends almost 45 percent of household income on food and India almost 50 percent.

Swinenews reports that US Income Share Spent For Food Smallest Ever.

He said that in 1929, Americans spent approximately 20% of their income for food. The percentage is now down to less than 10%, more specifically the latest data show the figure at just 9.6% total, which includes home prepared meals and dining out.

Redorbit reports that China's Meat Consumption Causing Global Grain Shortage.

China's Meat Consumption Causing Global Grain Shortage, Study Finds
Posted on: Thursday, 1 May 2008, 09:00 CDT

MIAMI, May 1 /PRNewswire/ -- A change in Chinese meat consumption habits since 1995 is diverting eight billion bushels of grain per year to livestock feed and could empty global grain stocks by September 2010, according to a new study from Biofuels Digest.

The study, "Meat vs Fuel: Grain use in the U.S. and China, 1995-2008," concluded that a complete shutdown of the U.S. ethanol industry would extend the deadline only until 2013.

"It's not food, it's not fuel, it's China," said Jim Lane, editor of Biofuels Digest and author of the report.

The study determined that China's meat consumption since 1995 has increased by 112 percent to 53 kilograms per person per year.

"If the Chinese people had consumed the same amount of meat, per person, in 2007 as in 1995, there would have been enough grain left over to support 927 million people with food for an entire year," said Lane.

The study found that the U.S. increased corn production by 157 million tonnes of corn since 1995. 31 million net tonnes of grain went to support U.S. ethanol production, and 27 million tonnes supported a 15 percent increase in U.S. population during the period. By contrast, the study projected that livestock grain demand to supply Chinese meat consumption increased by 199 million tonnes between 1995 and 2007.

"Given that the U.S. population grew 15 percent, the 82 percent increase in U.S. corn production left plenty for people, plenty for livestock, and plenty for ethanol," said Lane. "The bad news is that we have a global fuel and food crisis of the first magnitude. The only good news is that it's easier to find a steak in Beijing."

The study tracks
the meteoric growth in Chinese meat consumption since 1983, a trend spotted early by commentator Lester Brown in his prescient article "Who Will Feed China?" In 1995, meat consumption was 25 kilograms per person, reaching 31 kilograms by 1999, 50 kilograms by 2000, and is 53 kilograms per person today.

"Chinese meat consumption is still 45 percent less than the average consumption in the U.S.," Lane warned. "An additional 277 million tonnes of grain would be needed to support China at parity with the U.S. That would take 68 million acres to grow. There isn't that kind of arable land available anywhere is the world, whether we use grains for renewable energy or not."

The Japan Times reports that China's growth sums just don't add up for the planet.

China's growth sums just don't add up for the planet
June 23, 2005

China's 1.3 billion (and counting) citizens are poised to transform the global landscape dramatically, both economically and ecologically.

Today, the United States dominates the world stage with military spending of over $ 400 billion a year, a GDP topping $ 11 trillion annually, and carbon dioxide emissions that far surpass those of any other nation on Earth. But all this is going to change.

The U.S. will not relinquish its military dominance willingly [but the US will relinquish its military dominance unwillingly after the dollar collapses], so its spending on armaments will stay on top for decades to come, since, in 2004, China spent a comparatively paltry $ 56 billion on its military and Japan a mere $ 45 billion.

Nevertheless, by the middle of this century [over the next two or three years], the U.S. economy will slip into second place if China's burgeoning growth continues [the dollar collapses]. And even before China takes the lead economically, it will replace the U.S. as the world's leading producer of carbon dioxide gas, the primary cause of global climate change.

With more than a billion Chinese eager to acquire the trappings of a Western lifestyle -- such as more meat, cars, air conditioners refrigerators and the like -- nations worldwide are already repos itioning themselves to feed China's growing appetite for natural resources and finished goods.

Economists see this demand in rosy terms, but there is a downside. Our planet is simply unable to sustain billions more humans consuming at the same rate as today's Americans and Japanese.
[When the dollar/yen collapse, Americans and Japanese won't be consuming like Americans and Japanese anymore.]

Globally, our oceans are already overfished, farmland is being lost to urban sprawl, overgrazed grasslands are turning to deserts and groundwater supplies are drying up. In short, we are nearing (and some say we have surpassed) the limits of Earth's capacity to support human civilization. [Nonesense, human civilization isn't reaching the . Mankind is consuming 2 or 3 times more food than they used to, so the problem is overconsumption rather than lack of resources. As long as million of people are driving insanely wasteful SUV, there is plenty of room to cut back oil consumption. However, we ARE reaching the limits of Earth's capacity to support American style overconsumption.]

Now that the Chinese are rightfully demanding seats at this banquet of apparent plenty -- just when the planet is on the verge of maximum yield -- how can Earth provide America-like lifestyles for China's billion-plus inhabitants?

And what about India's billion more?

Today, per capita GNP in the U.S. and Japan sits at about $ 38,000 annually, while China's per capita GNP is a mere $ 1,000. Nevertheless, China -- which is home to more than 20 percent of the world's people -- is intent on closing this gap.

China's economy is surging at a rate of over 9 percent annually. If growth continues at about 8 percent a year, its economy could double every nine years. As a result, by 2031, income per person for China's projected population of 1.45 billion would reach $ 38,000, according to Lester Brown, head of the Earth Policy Institute in Washington D.C. [income per person for China's population will reach $ 38,000 next year as the dollar collapses]

If the Chinese reach this income level in 2031 [in 2011], and choose to consume grain at the same annual rate as Americans on this income level do today, then grain consumption per person in China would climb from 291 kg today to the 935 kg needed to sustain a U.S.-style diet rich in meat, milk and eggs. Put another way, in 2031 [in 2011], China would consume 1,352 million tons of grain -- far above the 382 million tons used in 2004.

In a March 9 policy paper titled "Learning from China: Why the Western Economic Model Will not Work for the World," Brown explains in a sobering sentence that bears re-reading -- "this is equal to two-thirds of the entire 2004 world grain harvest of just over 2 billion tons."

Assuming the Chinese follow the voracious lead of their American brethren, where will this grain come from, and what will everyone else eat?

And it's not just about grain. What about other foods, energy sources and countless other consumables?

According to Brown, writing in another paper released in February, China is already becoming the world's leading consumer of resources. "Among the five basic food, energy and industrial commodities -- grain and meat, oil and coal, and steel -- consumption in China has already eclipsed that of the U.S. in all but oil," he says.

In that paper, titled "China Replacing the United States as World's Leading Consumer" (http://www.earth-policy.org/), Brown also reports that, in 2004, China consumed 382 million tons of grain, compared with the U.S. consumption of 278 million tons; Chinese ate 63 million tons of meat, compared to the 37 million tons eaten in America; and, China's use of nitrates, phosphates and potash for fertilizer was more than twice the 19.2 million tons that were used in the U.S.

In 2003, China also used more than twice as much steel as the U.S. (258 million tons vs. 104 million tons), and its annual consumption of coal was 25 percent more than in the U.S. (800 million tons versus 574 million tons). Only in oil does the U.S. still hold the lead, with consumption triple that of China's -- 20.4 million barrels per day to 6.5 million barrels a day in 2004, according to Brown.

But China's consumption is soaring.

"While oil use in the U.S. expanded by only 15 percent from 1994 to 2004, use in China more than doubled," says Brown. "Having recently eclipsed Japan as an oil consumer, China is now second only to the U.S."

Of course, burning more coal and oil adds to the already serious problem of rising carbon dioxide emissions. In 2002, the Chinese only emitted 2.7 metric tons per capita, a fraction of the 9.4 metric tons released per capita by the Japanese, or of the 20.1 metric tons per capita released by Americans.

But human activities worldwide now emit more than 23 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually, and China's blazing economy depends on coal and oil.

None of this is China's fault. "The point of this exercise of projections is not to blame China for consuming so much," Brown stresses. "But rather to learn what happens when a large segment of humanity moves quickly up the global economic ladder. What we learn is that the economic model that evolved in the West -- the fossil fuel-based, auto-centered, throwaway economy -- will not work for China, simply because there are not enough resources."
[but they will be able to consume far more than they do today, and it will come at the expense of US consumption]

Nor will it work for the 3 to 4 billion others in the developing world who still want a piece of American pie [it isn't the American pie, its the China's pie. It is Americans and the rest of the world will be competing for the crumbs.] -- even as it is being reduced to crumbs.




United States


What the dollar's collapse means for Chinese consumption

1) Per capita GNP in China will exceed the US/Japan over the next two or three years as the dollar/yen collapse (see *****Hyperinflation will begin in China and destroy the dollar*****). China will jump from being a "low-income country" to being a "high-income country" in this brief time period.

2) The purchasing power of Chinese consumers will increase between 5 to 10 times as the yuan appreciates again other currencies increase. Note: this appreciation will not be uniform (for example, yuan should appreciate +100 times vs collapsing dollar/pound/yen, but only 2-3 times vs more stable currencies).

3) As a result of their newfound wealth and purchasing power, Chinese will try to adopt US lifestyle.

4) While China's consumption of commodities will increase drastically, commodity prices will spike as a result (more than doubling food costs). This will prevent china from ever reaching US level of overconsumption, especially in terms of food (ie: grain consumption will jump to 900-1000 MMT rather than 1300 MMT).

Why the dollar's collapse will disproportionally benefit agricultural commodities

1) As the purchasing power of the dollar falls, food is the last thing Americans will cut back on their spending on. Because of this, Americans will soon be spending 45% of their income on food, like Chinese do today.

2) So while Chinese demand for all commodities will be increasing, Western demand for non-food commodities will be collapsing. Since only Western demand for food will be relatively resilient in the face of increasing Chinese demand, agricultural commodities will benefit more than any other.

Conclusion: While oil and other commodities will benefit to some degree from Chinese demand, only agricultural commodities stand a chance of outperforming gold, especially with *****Catastrophic Fall in 2009 Global Food Production*****.

This entry was posted in Background_Info, China, Currency_Collapse, Food_Crisis. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Why Chinese Consumption Will Disproportionally Benefit Agricultural Commodities

  1. Robert says:

    Hi Eric - thought I'd draw your attention to this - it looks like the US may be trying to sabotage China.

    Washington is Playing a Deeper Game with China

  2. Maybe...
    but Maybe there will be a big growth in cheap edible crops that are now feed stocks for inxpensive food, and garin and beef will seek a market price. The new direction is xeric crops, crops that are salt tolerant, and fast growing algae feed stocks. There can be sources of cheap food for all.

    And the small solar concentrated solar energy piece is perfect for china.

  3. Numonic says:

    Reading this, all i can picture in my head is a bunch of people(Americans) eating in a restaurant and then suddenly watching the cooks(Chinese) come out to start eating too. And the customers asking "So, who's doing the cooking?".

    But this is not a doom and gloom story. My stance is that we don't have a shortage of products in the world, just a shortage of producers. That shortage will get worse as China tries to move from major producer to major consumer. But the collapse of credit, "credit" being the catalyst for decreasing the producers in the world will cause a shrink in consumption and a growth in production and because of the larger world population and credit no longer available to discourage production we will get out of this poverty through a massive growth in production and exploration. That's why I say a global credit collapse is the beginning of global prosperity.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Keating said "The new direction is xeric crops..."

    That is just a rebranding of the old genetically modified food scam. Every time Mansanto comes out with some new GMO crap, its gonna 'feed the world.' LOL.

    Any non-GMO xeric crops? I've never heard of one.

    Not to say they don't hold any promise, probably just not much of one. Wait and see.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Eric,perhaps you were on to something by keeping your eye on soy supply and prices.

    CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. soybeans sank to a 3-1/2 month low and corn futures slid to a seven-month trough Thursday, on brisk investor liquidation after China announced it would sell grain from its state reserves.

    China said it will sell 500,000 tonnes of soybeans, 1.2 million tonnes of corn and 750,000 tonnes of wheat….

    ..European and Asian dealers raised some questions about the Chinese sales scheme.

    "Nobody will buy at this price when you can import it cheaper," the head of the oilseed business at a trading firm in Singapore said. "Imported soybeans are around $40 to $50 cheaper (than the $549 per tonne set by the government)."

    One European dealer raised the prospect of "whether the Chinese sales are really a tactical move to push prices down to enable soybean purchases to be made at lower prices in (the) coming days."

    The focus in the runup to the Chinese auction next Tuesday will necessarily turn to export news.

    The U.S. Agriculture Department reported net weekly export sales of old crop soybeans to China of 111,200 tonnes, including 55,000 tonnes switched from unknown destinations.


  6. Saoirse says:

    I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>