Food Processing Degrees: Evidence from Beijing Household Survey

Type Conference Paper - 2011 Annual Meeting, July 24-26, 2011, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Title Food Processing Degrees: Evidence from Beijing Household Survey
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2011
URL degrees_Hainan Wang.pdf
In the past 30 years, China has become one of the fastest growing economies with an
approximate 8 percent growth rate yearly. Because of the largest population (1.3 billion) and
fast-growing economy, Chinese consumption market attracts special attention from all over the
world. Since food plays a central role in the life of Chinese households, understanding food
consumption patterns in China is essential to large agricultural goods producers and exporters,
such as the United States.
Pictures of food consumption are significantly different between the rural and urban areas in
China, where people in rural areas consume more semi-processed or ready-to-eat food. In
many urban areas, 30 percent of total food consumed is processed, while this number is lower
than 20 percent in most rural areas. According to RNCOS’ 2010 report “Chinese Processed Food
Market Analysis”, during the tough economic conditions, the consumption of processed food
grew at double digit rate. At the end of 2009, the sales of processed food reached an estimated
value of RMB 4.5 Trillion (approximately USD 660 billion). Taking our survey as an example,
almost half (49.5 percent) of the food expenditure at home goes to semi-processed and readyto-eat
products, where ready-to-eat food accounts for 42 percent in total food expenditure at
home. There has been a remarkable growth in the market for processed food in China, which is
driven by higher concentration of wealth and busy lifestyle of people living in urban China.
Especially in metropolitan cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, processed food is perhaps the
most convenient option for people. With nearly 88% of urban households having refrigerators,
compared to only 16% in rural households, the urban market is ready for foods that need

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