Asia's Grains Market Facing Changes

Rapid rise of Asian middle class is likely to revamp global food system.

Published on: Feb 28, 2012

The U.S. Grains Council has released a report that states that the sophisticated food demands of newly affluent consumers in China and other developing nations are likely to cause major change in U.S. farming and food production, Asian food policy and world trade. USGC President and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Dorr presented a preview of Food 2040 at the USDA's annual Agricultural Outlook Forum.

"We are seeing China become more open to acceptance of new technology, such as agricultural biotechnology, which can help meet the needs of the Asian middle class in a sustainable manner through trade," Dorr said. "U.S. attitudes about feeding the world are likely to change too."

USGC Chairman Dr. Wendell Shauman, an Illinois corn farmer, points out that many of the agribusinesses and agricultural organizations that comprise the U.S. Grains Council are starting to review possibilities for meeting the needs and capturing the economic value that ascendency of the Asian middle class represents.

"Working together with trading partners around the world to understand emerging trends, we can use a convergence of science, technology and policy reform to meet changing food demands and capture the economic potential of new Asian consumers," Shauman said.

Other changes talked about in the report include: China is on a path to global bioscience leadership, driven by major central government investments to meet its own food needs and a desire to be an export leader. A well-developed food safety and inspection system could be ahead. China is likely to adopt Japan's rapid acceptance of foods prepared outside the home.

The USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service is assisting the Council with the launch of Food 2040 in Japan.

"Japan and the United States are longstanding trading partners, and we understand each other well. Now, our two nations must learn more about China and develop an understanding of how this emerging mega-market will influence the global food system and our two nations' participation in it," said Geoffrey Wiggin, USDA's FAS Minister-Counselor in Tokyo.