China’s Growing Fondness for Bread Will Help Boost Wheat Imports
China will keep scooping up more and more global wheat supplies after record imports last year, with changing diets in an increasingly affluent society set to be a key driver of future demand.
Overseas purchases jumped 17% to about 9.8 million tons in 2021, customs data show. Increased use of wheat for animal feed because of high domestic corn prices and a difficult harvest played a major role in pushing up imports.
But the impact of rising wealth on people’s diets is also boosting demand for the grain, a core ingredient in everything from bread to noodles, dumpling skins, biscuits and pastries. Growth in consumption has accelerated in recent years as China adopts more western-style eating habits, and food use will be the leading driver of wheat demand, according to Sitonia Consulting.
“We’re still expecting China’s 2022 imports to be large,” said Darin Friedrichs, co-founder and market research director of Sitonia, a China-based agricultural information service provider. “Domestic prices remain high due to increased use of wheat in animal feed and structural trends in consumers’ eating habits.”
Strong wheat prices are now starting to rekindle inflation in consumer food staples, with Nissin Foods Co. recently announcing an increase in prices of instant noodles in China. The maker of the famous ‘Cup Noodles’ brand attributed the move, its first in over a decade, to soaring cost pressures.
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