China’s meat market is the second largest sector in the country’s retail food market. However, it is one of the last to be affected by the development of new retail formats. Much of the meat sold in retail outlets are sold at free wet markets, most of which are in open-air market places or streets. These markets provide a venue at which the customer can buy live poultry or freshly slaughtered meat produce direct from local farmers. However, these markets are gradually being removed from cities, supermarkets and hypermarkets. China’s meat market has less to do with company and brand shares than sector growth: local consumers eat far greater quantities of fresh meat than they did before economic reforms were launched some 25 years ago. Not only are today’s consumers able to buy more meat than ever before: they also have a far wider choice of meat from which to choose.
Shuanghui Group is one of the largest meat processing companies in China and offers high-temperature meat products, low-temperature meat products, fresh meat and frozen meat. It was the first meat processing company to pass ISO9001. It was established in 1994 and is headquartered in Luohe (漯河), Henan (河南).
Yurun Group Limited is the largest meat supplier in Mainland China. It is headquartered in Nanjing (南京), Jiangsu (江苏). It operates in two segments, chilled and frozen meat and processed meat products. Its products are marketed under its brand names of Yurun, Furun, Wangrun and Popular Meat Packing.
Distribution network of meat selling
Improved choice stems in part from vast improvements in China’s distribution networks – thanks, in turn, to expanding transportation networks. which have helped to develop more regional trade in fresh and processed meats. More produce is therefore reaching consumers in less populated regions. Processed meat products are mainly sold through new retail formats such as supermarkets and hypermarkets. Organized supermarket chains are increasingly becoming the main retailer of processed meats, particularly for frozen and chilled products. This suits the increasingly sophisticated and demanding needs of urban consumers with rising incomes. People are now able to buy more expensive cuts of meat than before, leading to greater demand for variety and quality of produce.
Factors lead to the development of the meat market in China
The increasing availability of processed and packaged foods has also added to the general growth in people’s interest in food. As a result, Chinese consumers are demanding more variety and better quality of meat products. Sharp growth in consumer demand has prompted meat producers to operate more efficiently. Improved farming techniques and management are leading to larger-scale operations which increasingly rely on automation in production, packaging and transportation – a process that ultimately will create significant meat supply companies. Although still in its earliest stages, this trend will develop as growers become actively involved in supplying to the fast-growing supermarket and hypermarket chains rapidly expanding outside China’s largest cities. However, frequent food safety scares, especially related to hygiene, disease and the use of food additives, have all added to reluctance among consumers about the meat they buy. These issues have the potential to seriously harm the market.