Corn beats rice as top foodstuff in China

CHINA - Corn overtook rice as the largest food product in China for the first time last year, according to a Chinese Academy for Social Sciences report released on Wednesday.

Domestic corn production grew 8 per cent to 208 million tonnes, while rice output edged up just 1.6 per cent to 204 million tonnes.

The report attributed the surge in corn demand to rapid development of husbandry and demand from industrial processing.

China's agricultural- product dependency on international markets reached 21.1 per cent last year, up from 20.7 per cent in 2011.

Mr Guo Wei, director of the rural branch of the National Policy Research Office at the State Council, said that as China's food dependency on the international market had risen in past years, people should be made aware of the issue of food security.

"China's foodstuff demand has expanded fast mainly because food has been used for purposes other than basic feeding," said Mr Guo. Corn has been increasingly processed into starch, albumen powder and ethanol, boosting the demand for the grain.

To rein in these activities, China increased taxes on corn processing and reduced subsidies for ethanol making last year.

Mr Guo suggested reining in grain use in non-food processing, and improving Chinese people's diets by reducing consumption of meat and poultry.

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