Beef imports into a combined China and Hong Kong will soar by 33 per cent to 2.56 million tonnes by 2028 according to the latest 10-year trade forecasts from the United States Department of Agriculture.
The USDA predicted overall global imports would climb by 1.6 million tonnes to hit 10.5 million tonnes by 2028.
It said increased imports by lower and middle income countries would fuel much of the increase in lower-value grassfed beef.
Imports of grainfed beef, mainly by higher income countries, were projected to rise slowly.
China’s beef imports would lift from 1.32 million tonnes in 2019 to 1.89 million tonnes by the end of the decade.
US beef imports of mainly grassfed, lean beef for use in ground beef and processed products, would gradually rise throughout the projection period, the USDA said.
With beef imports up by almost four per cent over the next decade, the US was projected to be the world’s second largest beef importer by the end of the projection period at 1.46 million tonnes.
The Middle East and North Africa region (including Egypt), with fast population and income growth, was projected to increase beef imports from 1.22 million tonnes in 2019 to 1.59 million by 2028, at an average annual growth rate of three per cent.
South-East Asia countries, headed by Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, should maintain strong income growth, leading to an average annual growth rate of three per cent increase in their beef imports, from 497,000 tonnes this year to 645,000 tonnes by 2028.
And despite all the noise about the switch to vegan diets and the growing number of plant-based and lab-grown meat alternatives, the USDA tipped global meat consumption would continue to rise during the next decade. This would lead to increased overall exports including 2.5pc for beef.
Brazil, the world’s leading beef exporter, was expected to increase its shipments from 2.2 million tonnes in 2019 to reach 2.9 million tonnes by decade’s end.
India was forecast to retain its number two spot by lifting its exports (mainly cheap buffalo) from 1.6 million tonnes in 2019 to 2.05 million tonnes by 2028.
The USDA expected Australia to stay the third-largest beef exporter with shipments lifting by 102,000 during the decade to 1.6 million tonnes, just shading the US which was tipped to finished the decade with exports of 1.55 million tonnes.