Category Archives: china

CHINA – China To Import More US Soybeans – June 23, 2011

CHINA – Soybean imports are expected to rise by five per cent this year, increasing the attraction of the country to US soybean farmers.

The statement was made by Alan Kemper, president of the American Soybean Association, report official sources in China.

The increase in the soybean trade may help promote China-US relationships, indicating a way to balance bilateral trade, Chinese experts said.

Mr Kemper said: “China is the most important market for US soybeans, and the soybean trade will play a large role in improving the balance of China-US trade.”

China is the largest importer of US soybeans. It imported a quarter of the country’s domestic production last year, according to the association.

Zhang Monan, a researcher at the Economic Forecast Department of the State Information Center, said soybean trade between the two countries will help maintain a stable development in bilateral relations.

The US has heavily subsidised its agricultural sector so it is important for the country to ensure profit margins in the global food market, Mr Zhang said.

Given constraints over land and water resources, it is difficult for China to meet growing demand for agricultural products such as soybeans domestically. It can buy agricultural products with its bulky foreign reserves, she added.

If imports are to increase, it is not because of a decline in domestic production but because of growing demand, said Liu Denggao, vice-president of the China Soybean Industry Association.

Mr Liu said: “The size of the area where China’s soybeans are grown remains largely unchanged from last year.”

Even with the fresh demand in China’s market, the competition is growing fiercer in the international market, as imports from South American countries such as Brazil and Argentina have also increased in recent years.

To consolidate its position, the US soybean industry will invest more than $2 million this year in China’s market, Mr Kemper said.

The investment will finance programmes teaching Chinese farmers efficient ways of using soybeans to improve the production of swine, poultry, dairy and other agricultural sectors, according to the association.

Marc Curtis, chairman of the United Soybean Board, said: “These programmes have been carried out for the last 30 years since we arrived in China. We will continue our efforts to serve China’s market.”

China imported a historic 54.8 million tons of soybeans in 2010, compared with 15.2 million tons of domestic production, General Administration of Customs data showed. The country’s self-sufficiency rate currently stands at 22 per cent.

The imported soybeans are all genetically modified and mainly used as animal feed or for oil crushing.

Imports of soybeans to China declined by one per cent year-on-year to 4.56 million tons in May. China’s soybean imports during the first five months of this year remain largely the same compared with the same period last year.

Information TheCattleSite News Desk

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CHINA – China Dairy Has Lowest Quality Standards – June 20, 2011

CHINA – China’s dairy industry has the lowest quality standards in the world and much of the blame is down to the large companies that dominate it and the rock-bottom prices they pay farmers for raw milk, industry experts told China Daily.

“Milk processors and farmers all know that the problems of low protein content and high bacteria counts in milk are easy to solve with money but they have instead reduced investment because of the low profit margins,” said Wang Dingmian, the former vice-chairman of the Guangdong Provincial Dairy Association.

Mr Dingmian told China Daily on Sunday that, if cows are fed enough, the protein content of the milk they produce would rise within a week. He said dairy farmers have instead reduced the amount of feed they give their animals because of the low price they get from the big dairy companies for the milk they produce.

The high bacteria count in milk is also caused by insufficient capital investment.

“The prolonged duration and high temperature during milk processing has caused the multiplication of bacteria in the milk,” he said.

China relaxed its national milk quality standards in 2010, increasing the maximum limit of bacteria acceptable in raw milk from 500,000 per milliliter to 2 million per milliliter and lowering the minimum requirement for protein content from 2.95 grams per 100 grams of milk to 2.80 grams.

Statistics show that international standards for protein content call for 3 grams per 100 grams of milk. The acceptable amount of bacteria in raw milk in Europe is 100,000 per milliliter.

“The revised standards for raw milk, normal-temperatured milk and pasteurized milk were drafted by two Chinese dairy giants – Mengniu Dairy Co Ltd and Yili Industrial Group,” Mr Dingmian said.

Food safety experts claimed the dairy giants helped ensure there were looser standards in place because some of their branch plants could not meet higher standards.

“It’s common that branches don’t keep up with the standards of the parent company,” said Sang Liwei, a food-safety lawyer and the China representative of the NGO Global Food Safety Forum.

In April, 251 children at Yuhe township primary school in Yulin, Shaanxi province, fell ill after drinking school milk manufactured by one of Mengniu’s local plants in the province. Test results released later said the milk met China’s national standards.

“This shows the national standards for milk quality are imperfect,” Mr Liwei said.

“A lot of bacteria in milk may mean microbiological problems occur more easily,” Mr Liwei said. “If companies handling the milk do not strictly follow procedures for the storage and transportation of the milk, there will be food safety incidents.”

Mr Dingmian suggested that a flexible policy be brought in under which high prices are paid to farmers for high-quality milk, so farmers are motivated to ensure their farms produce better quality raw milk.

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CHINA – China’s Chief Vet Meets Fonterra CEO – June 16, 2011

CHINA – On 31 May 2011, Chief Veterinary Officer Yu Kangzhen met with New Zealand Fonterra Co-operative Group Global CEO Andrew Ferrier. They exchanged views on matters related to strengthening cooperation in the field of dairy industry.

Mr Kangzhen said he greatly appreciated the development of dairy cooperation between China and Fonterra, acknowledging the increase in NZ dairy exports to China.

Mr Kangzhen said that NZ could continue to help China in many ways:

  • Cooperation in supervision over quality and safety of fresh milk
  • Exchanges in breeding and improvement of dairy cows
  • Technical cooperation in quality and safety of fresh milk production
  • Demonstrations of large-scale dairy cow farming
  • Strengthening of dairy farmer training and technical skills

Mr Ferrier agreed with what Mr Kangzhen said, and noted that Fonterra would have closer cooperation and coordination with various authorities and regions through joint efforts for greater achievements.

Information TheCattleSite News Desk

CHINA – Supervision On Raw Milk Tightened – June 07, 2011

CHINA – The Ministry of Agriculture has called for the tightening of the control and assessment of raw milk.

According to the requirements of the Work on Quality and Safety of Dairy Products issued by the General Office of the State Council in September 2010, the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) has taken measures to enhance the supervision on quality and safety of dairy products and made significant progress through special programmes on the basis of results from previous programmes.

The programmes for the regulation of raw milk have been expanded over four areas:

    1. All Milk stations involved in the collection of raw milk have, or will, be inspected in strict compliance with the Regulations on Supervision and Administration on Quality and Safety of Dairy Products.
    1. The quality and safety of raw milk has, and will, keep improving. According to the features of raw milk production and transportation, agricultural authorities have established a series of supervision systems, including special monitoring, surprise sampling inspection and sampling inspection by bodies from other places.
    1. Progress has been made in the development of standardised dairy cattle farming. 260 million yuan, from the state, has been allocated as special funds for subsidies on improved breeds to 9.02 million heads of dairy cattle in the country.
  1. Practical results have been achieved in terms of technical trainings for dairy farmers.

MOA will carry out the special programme on raw milk in accordance with the regulations in the next phase.

For more information please see www.english.agri.gov.cn

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CHINA – Chinese middle-class helps Fonterra set new export record – 27th Apr 11

The world’s biggest dairy exporter, Fonterra, says demand from aspiring middle-class consumers in Asia – particularly China – has underpinned recorded the cooperative’s record level of monthly exports: 229,000 tonnes in March.

“The real driver for the export record is the ongoing strong demand from China, South East Asia and the Middle East,” said the company’s managing director of trade and operations, Gary Romano.

“In these regions, we are seeing the emergence of the middle-class with more discretionary income and a desire for more nutritious foods,” he said. “Dairy fits the bill”.

The record shipments were part of continued growth in global demand for high quality dairy products from New Zealand.

“Our supply chain team were effectively closing the door on an export container every 2.6 minutes,” Romano said. “That’s equivalent to 560 containers a day”.

“We expect the record month will inject around $1.2 billion into the New Zealand economy,” he said.

In August last year, Fonterra announced that it had set a new annual export record, sending 2.1 million tonnes of product to international markets for the first time in its nine-year history.

The export tonnages from August 2009 to July 2010 were 60,000 tonnes higher than in 2008-2009 and were a factor in New Zealand’s six month run of consecutive trade surpluses.

Milkpowder, butter and cheese all ranked among the leading exports which saw the June trade surplus hit $276 million and the year-to-June surplus in 2010 reach $639 million.

Those gains were also attributed to Asian demand, and Fonterra said at the time that it shipped an average 380 containers a day, with highs of 500 between the peak export months of November and April.

The final payout to farmers for this season’s milkflows will be announced in September, but directors have already said that farmers can expect a record payout in the season due to end next month.

The cooperative has indicated that a surplus of around $8/kg milksolids is likely to result in an average of $900,000 being available for each farmer: its current forecast range for the 2011 season is $7.90-$8.00kg milksolids (before retentions) to farmers, unchanged from the levels announced in late February.

Its 10,500 farmers are expected to each receive between $7.75 kg and $7.80/kg in cash from their milk payment, plus the cooperative’s dividend.

Fonterra’s previous record in 2008 was $7.90/kg (before retentions), the company said. That season, farmers received $7.66 kg in cash.

The 2011 forecast is based on a milk price of $7.50/kg and a distributable profit (surplus) range of $550-$690 million, equivalent to 40c-50c a share, from which Fonterra plans to pay a dividend of 25c-30c a share.

The bonanza payout will be in spite of a tough start to the dairying season with drought, floods and snow storms.

Information NZPA

CHINA – Humanised Cow’s Milk Has Cloudy Future – April 06, 2011

CHINA – Cloned cows that produce ‘humanised’ milk might be an interesting scientific achievement, but have been met with limited enthusiasm reports ABC Science .

Chinese researchers announced in the journal PLoS ONE this week that they had engineered cows to secrete milk containing lysozyme, a protein found in human breastmilk that boosts the immunity of breastfed babies.

The researchers from the China Agricultural University and GeneProtein Biotechnology Company, both in Beijing, say alternatives to breastmilk are important because mothers are sometimes reluctant or unable to breastfeed.

“Modified bovine milk is a possible substitute for human milk,” they write.

The researchers inserted human lysozyme genes into the nuclei of cow body cells, and then used somatic cell nuclear transfer (the ‘Dolly method’) to clone the cows.

Uncertain public support

New Zealand researcher, Dr Goetz Laible, of AgResearch has been involved with boosting nutrient levels in milk through transgenic cows.

He says the Chinese research builds on previous research in the US, which developed transgenic goats that produced milk with human lysozyme.

“I think it’s great that the step has been taken to go from goat as a model into cattle,” says Dr Laible. “It might form a new base for an improved infant formula.”

But he says, uncertain public support for the use of transgenic animals in food production means funding for such research has dried up.

“We are not actively working on this for funding reasons,” says Dr Laible, who now focuses instead on ‘biopharming’, the use of transgenic animals to produce therapeutic products, such as monoclonal antibodies.

Technical hurdles and ethics

David Nation from the Dairy Futures CRC in Melbourne says there is no active research on genetically modified cows in Australia.

“The dairy industry [in Australia] made a very definite decision to discontinue investment in transgenics because there are still lots of technical limitations and still large ethical issues to resolve with the community,” he says.

The Chinese researchers implanted 312 blastocysts into cows. But only 37 full-term calves were born, of which many did not survive and only four were found to reach normal lactation.

Nation says previous research on transgenic cows in Australia found similar problems with calf mortality.

“That’s considered one of the big unknowns in this technology,” he says.

“Why is it in the cloning process that there is a significant number of abnormalities that lead to both abortions and low survival for those animals that do reach term?”

Nation says the problems are even more pronounced when the clone has been genetically modified.

Breastmilk substitute?

Breast milk experts are also dubious about this direction of research.

“This is an interesting scientific achievement but it really has little relevance to feeding babies,” says Professor Peter Hartmann of the University of Western Australia.

He says lysozyme is only one of 279 proteins in human milk that provide protection to babies.

Babies are also protected by antibodies circulating in the breastfeeding mother, says Hartmann, who is president of the International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation.

“Breastfeeding is not just pouring breastmilk down the baby’s throat. It involves a very complex interaction between mother and infant,” he says.

“Claims of producing cows that secrete breastmilk are naïve to the extreme,” he says, adding lysozyme would be largely destroyed during pasteurisation of cow’s milk.

Meanwhile, Kate Mortenson of Australian Breastfeeding Australia argues there is no need to produce alternatives to breast milk given the existence of breast milk banks.

“The ones in Melbourne and in Western Australia are mainly for premature infants whose mothers do sometimes have trouble producing enough milk to start with. And they have more than enough donors,” says Ms Mortenson.

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CHINA – Top Agribusiness Group Seeks To Expand Further

CHINA – A profile of top entrepreneur, Liu Yonghao, who owns New Hope Group. New Hope Group is one of the world’s largest agribusinesses.

If you were seated next to Liu Yonghao in economy class in an aircraft, you would hardly think he is a billionaire and one of China’s top entrepreneurs, reports the European edition of China Daily. More likely, Mr Liu would be in a T-shirt, rather than in a business suit, and would have chosen to fly on a discounted economy class ticket.

Of course, Mr Liu could have first class if he wanted to. After all, he owns one of China’s largest feed producing and agribusiness companies, New Hope Group, which he established in 1996.

Last year, New Hope sold 1.4 million tons of feed – the third highest in the world – and had a revenue of more than 60 billion yuan (CNY; €6.5 billion).

It is one of the largest suppliers of meat, eggs and dairy products in China, providing more than 200 million poultry and half a million tons of milk each year. It also processes 8.5 million pigs each year.

And New Hope Group is the largest shareholder of China Minsheng Banking Co Ltd, with almost 80 per cent of its annual profits coming from Minsheng. It also set up New Hope Financial Company at the end of 2010.

“The reason for leading a simple life is the fact that I started from scratch,” Mr Liu says.

Born in 1951 to a poor family with many children in Xinjin county, Chengdu of Southwest China’s Sichuan province, Mr Liu did not even have his own shoes until he was 20.

After completing his studies at a vocational technical college, he started to work as a teacher. His three brothers had jobs in the government or State-owned companies. But the family remained poor.

To enable them to have some meat to eat in the Spring Festival, the four brothers quit their government jobs and sold their watches and bicycles to raise CNY1,000 to start a business in Sichuan province’s countryside in the early 1980s at the outset of China’s economic reforms.

They bred and sold quail very successfully, and within six years, they had amassed CNY10 million and branched into the animal feed business, establishing the Hope Group in 1992.

Four years later, the brothers decided to go their own way, and Mr Liu set up the New Hope Group, which now employs 66,000 people and operates more than 400 factories in China and abroad.

Despite his wealth, he prefers the simple life and drove a Volkswagen Santana for years until his employees insisted he buy a Mercedes-Benz. He has not changed his hairstyle for years and always goes to the same barbershop, and his favourite food is pork, often with chilli seasoning.

The soft-spoken Mr Liu seldom berates others, and always has a smile. “My employees will not feel pressured when talking with me,” says Liu, who is president of New Hope.

Liu, who does not drink or smoke and shows no interests in brand names, had refused many offers from publishers to write his biography. It was not until he found some fake versions of his life beginning to circulate that he invited an author to write a book about his life.

“I still have so many things to do, and I think it is not the time to write a biography, but I don’t want others to be misled by some fake versions of my life experience,” Mr Liu says.

He says his turning point came in 1993 when he joined the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China’s top political consultative body, as a representative of the private sector. That year, he was appointed vice-president of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce.

These positions provided him with opportunities to make friends with entrepreneurs across the nation and the world.

“It gave me lot of opportunities to communicate with outstanding entrepreneurs and experts. It was an eye-opening experience,” Mr Liu says. “Not all entrepreneurs have these kinds of opportunities.”

While he is no longer the federation’s vice-president – a person can serve only two consecutive terms of office – he is still in charge of the economics committee of the CPPCC, which gives him the chance to meet and learn from economists.

“I am trying to learn more about China’s macro economy to develop a more sophisticated way of thinking,” he says.

Mr Liu spends more than 12 hours a day at work and most of his spare time reading. And once he thinks he has come across some meaningful and useful points, he jots them in a notebook he carries with him, no matter who he is talking to.

He is a devoted family man, preferring to return home to have lunch with his wife whenever possible. His daughter, Liu Chang, 30, is also part of New Hope and is on its board of directors.

Despite the success of New Hope Group, Mr Liu is not sitting still. Last year, the group underwent a restructuring, including injecting good quality assets into the listed company and stripping some non-core business assets out of it.

“The overall listing of New Hope Group’s agriculture and animal husbandry assets has been initiated and will be completed during 2011,” Liu says. “And then New Hope Group will have the largest market value among the domestic enterprises in the fields of agriculture and animal husbandry.

“We want to promote the development of our agricultural industry through combining capital and industry. We will make good use of two channels of ‘listed company’ and ‘finance company’ to provide financial support to the development of agricultural and animal husbandry industries.

“As a result, a more comprehensive industrial chain, including the construction of the terminal market and wholesale market, can be established.”

And the group is looking further afield, joining forces with the Zhongshan-based Agria Corp to buy a 50.1 per cent stake of PGG Wrightson, New Zealand’s largest agricultural services provider, with its grass seeds business ranking first in the southern hemisphere. The aim is to promote the seed industry development of New Hope Group, Mr Liu says.

Zhang Tianli, a partner of New Hope Group’s Industry Fund, says: “The volume of the deal is about $200 million. The deal is waiting for the approvals of the governments of New Zealand and China. If it goes smoothly, it can be done by the end of April.”

This is New Hope Group’s first venture overseas through an acquisition or merger. But as early as 1996, New Hope expanded overseas and now operates 12 feed factories in Viet Nam, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Bangladesh.

Mr Liu says although New Hope also invests in finance and real estate, its core business is still agriculture. “Our target in the next five years is to build our company into a world-class feed producer and agribusiness operator,” he says.

To achieve this, he is seeking more international experience and wants to learn from success stories overseas such as those from the United States.

“The US is the major producer and exporter of soybean and corn, while China is the major importer,” he says. “And the US possesses advanced agricultural technologies and complete industrial chains, which are worth learning for Chinese.”

Mr Liu says that over the next five years, New Hope will build 15 to 20 more factories overseas, generating sales of more than CNY2 billion and profits of CNY200 million.

“My time is divided into three parts: the first is for the dealing with the critical issues of New Hope Group, the second for learning from the first-class talents, the third for researching on the development of our enterprise,” he says.

“In the past, you could easily gain business success once you were diligent enough, yet now, you have to work hard, have good personal relationships and always keep learning.

“There is still a long way to go for us to become a world-class agricultural enterprise, but we are sure we will accomplish it in the future,” Mr Liu added.

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