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The Big 3: China, India and Indonesia

China, India and Indonesia alone will account for 75% of Asia’s total population and 60% of its real GDP by 2030. The food system transitions in these three countries will therefore have profound regional and global impacts, with the sheer size of their populations and their economic strength in the coming years affecting global demand and supply of food.?

Increased consumption of meat in China and Indonesia, but low growth in India. China’s calorie consumption increased by almost 30% between 1983 and 2013. During the same period, India and Indonesia’s calorie consumption increased by 11% and 17%, respectively. By 2030, China is projected to consume an additional 30 kg of meat per person. India’s strong vegetarian culture reduces the possibility that India will emerge as a major meat consumer, but some projections estimate that India’s meat consumption (mostly poultry) will rise to 9 kg in 2050, from a base of 3 kg. Indonesia is projected to consume 10–11 kg of meat per capita by 2030. In terms of composition, China’s increase in calorie consumption has been driven by increases in the consumption of meat, as well as vegetables and fruit. Pork accounts for the majority of animal protein consumed, and it accounted for 75% of meat consumed in China. Consumption of beef, fish and chicken has also grown quickly, albeit from a low base. India’s meat consumption mainly involves chicken and fish (63%), reflecting the fact that 80% of residents claim Hinduism as their religion. In Indonesia, meat consumption mainly involves fish (45%). Dairy products and eggs account for a larger proportion of calories consumed in China and India (4% and 6%, respectively) than in Indonesia (1%).?

Growing demand for food that is more resource-intensive and a lack of resources will drive the need for trade, to varying degrees. China has a long-standing grain self-sufficiency target of 95% and has remained largely self-sufficient in grain, with the exception of soybean (feed material for pigs), of which it is the world’s largest importer. However, China is unlikely to be able to maintain absolute self-sufficiency given the surge in demand, its lack of arable land and soil degradation. Projections tend to point towards greater import dependence for meat and dairy products, as well as grain to a lesser extent. India is more likely to meet increases in demand for staples through domestic supply, although it will need to import significant amounts of vegetables, oils, and to a lesser extent, pulses and meat. Indonesia currently relies on imports to meet demand for key food products and ensure its food security, and it is likely to face increased demand for imported food such as wheat and beef.?

All three countries have food self-sufficiency targets, but China has displayed greater willingness to move to market-based solutions. China has ambitious self-sufficiency targets, but the Thirteenth Five-Year Plan (2016–20) focuses on land consolidation and modernisation of the agricultural sector, as well as greater openness to imports. Indonesia introduced a new Food Law in 2012 to build selfreliance and ensure food security by prioritising the domestic production of staple food, and it has set self-sufficiency targets for five staple crops. However, these programmes have been criticised for their high costs and significant market distortion. India is largely self-sufficient in most key staples and has stressed the need for self-sufficiency in its five-year plans. However, it is expected to face significant challenges in meeting its self-sufficiency targets due to decreasing productivity grown and scarce natural resources.”

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