Business / Industries

Lamb imports soar as former favorite cuts get the chop from shoppers

By Zhong Nan (China Daily) Updated: 2014-02-14 07:18

China's hunger for lamb and mutton has pushed the country to import more of it recently with trade partners that help the nation keep up with domestic demand for the high-protein, low-fat meat.

Lamb imports soar as former favorite cuts get the chop from shoppers

Thanks to China's higher earnings and increasingly diverse diet, mutton has become popular.

Last year, the country imported 259,000 metric tons of mutton - mainly Australia and New Zealand - which was a 109 percent increase over the previous year, according to the General Administration of Customs.

Ding Shengjun, senior researcher at the Academy of State Administration of Grain, said Chinese consumers have taken to lamb, and the meat can be found at hot pot, halal and other restaurants across the country.

"Urbanization is another key factor that has shifted Chinese diets from containing mostly grains to one that includes more meat and dairy products," Ding said.

Consumers, he said, are "not only interested in buying lamb chunks as before" but are purchasing different parts of the sheep, a trend that has surged in recent years.

Australia, one of China's major suppliers, shipped 10,092 metric tons of sheep shoulder chops and 27,026 metric tons of mutton sweetbreads to China in 2013, both up more than 50 percent from a year earlier.

Chinese demand for Australian leg of lamb jumped 72 percent year-on-year to 6,390 metric tons last year, according to customs data.

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