China’s Hoarding of Food Grains Is Contributing to Rising Global Food Prices, Experts Say

By Jennifer Bateman
Jennifer Bateman
Jennifer Bateman
Jennifer Bateman is a news writer focused on China.
and Ellen Wan
Ellen Wan
Ellen Wan
Ellen Wan has worked for the Japanese edition of The Epoch Times since 2007.
December 30, 2021 Updated: December 30, 2021

China has had a bountiful grain harvest this year, according to reports from Beijing, but data from various official sources show that grain imports have reached a new high, and China’s grain reserves are now greater than 50 percent of global grain reserves.

If that’s accurate, some experts predict that China’s practice of stockpiling grains will further push up international food prices.

Latest data from China’s General Administration of Customs has revealed that from January to November this year, the country’s grain imports exceeded 150 million tons, an increase of 20 percent over the same period last year, of which cereals doubled, corn tripled, and rice also nearly doubled. This means that grain imports during the first 11 months of 2021 amounted to 23 percent of the officially claimed production of 650 million tons of grain this year.

According to the latest statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, China is stockpiling more than half of the world’s total stocks of major grains such as corn, rice, and wheat. Moreover, the proportion of these major grain reserves in China has increased by about 20 percent in the past 10 years, indicating that the Chinese regime has been continuously hoarding large amounts of grains.

The agriculture department estimates that by the first half of next year, China’s grain stocks will comprise 69 percent of global grain stocks, with corn stock accounting for 60 percent, rice 60 percent, and wheat 51 percent.

China’s National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration director Qin Yuyun stated in November that China’s total grain stocks are at a historic high, with wheat stocks able to meet the consumption demand of the entire Chinese population for one and a half years.

Epoch Times Photo
Chinese farmers store wheat after harvesting in Zouping, Shandong Province in northeast China on June 13, 2012. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

China’s population is less than 20 percent of the world’s population, which is out of proportion with its food stocks. Many experts have expressed concern that this situation will push up global food prices and cause food shortages in other regions.

Akio Shibata, the director of Japan’s Natural Resource Research Institute, recently said that China’s large reserves of grain have contributed to increases in global food prices.

“Hoarding by China is one reason for rising prices,” said Shibata reported Nikkei.

The latest food price index from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) shows that global food prices rose by about 30 percent year-over-year in November.

State-run China Central Television (CCTV) touted on Dec. 19 that despite the frequent occurrence of floods and other natural disasters in China this year, as well as large fluctuations in international food prices, there has still been a sufficient supply in China’s grain market between January and November, and the rise of China’s grain prices has been steady and moderate.

Previously, on Dec. 8, Zeng Yande, the director of Development and Planning under the Ministry of Agriculture, said China has had bumper grain crops in recent years, but China’s grain demands will continue to grow for at least the next three decades.

‘Bountiful Harvest’ Is Just Propaganda

Zhang Litian, a current affairs commentator with over 20 years of experience in China’s grain industry, told The Epoch Times that China’s record-setting grain imports have already proven that the regime’s claims of bumper harvests are false.

The quantity of food imports data from customs, cannot be falsified, Zhang said. According to Zhang, the relevant information from multiple sources reflects that China’s grain demand is real and that the regime is indeed increasing its grain reserves.

“The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) believes that food security is fundamental to the regime’s security,” Zhang said.

The CCP began to hoard food as early as the Mao Zedong era, he said.

“Prepare for war and prepare for famine,” was a slogan during Mao’s time, and today, it still has the same purpose. Large food imports make up for the gap in domestic food production to meet China’s domestic demand. At the same time, the regime feels under attack from the United States, Canada, Brazil, Australia, and other countries that are also the main sources of China’s food imports.

“The CCP is worried that if these countries unite [against the CCP], China’s food security will be threatened,” Zhang said.

Epoch Times Photo
A combine harvester harvests wheat on a field in Baoding, Hebei Province, China on June 17, 2018. (Reuters)

Disrupting International Market

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences has predicted that by 2025, China may have a grain deficit of about 130 million tons. This is 20 percent of the 650 million tons of annual grain production currently claimed by the regime and is exactly the amount of China’s grain imports last year.

As early as 1994, American scholar Lester Brown and the USDA jointly published a research report titled “Who Will Feed China?” where Brown pointed out that China’s high-speed industrialization would destroy its natural resources and turn land into desert. As China’s population increases, the country would need to import a large amount of food to feed more than one billion people, which would trigger a rise in global food prices and disrupt the global food market.

Back then, the CCP spent much effort refuting and attacking Brown. The regime’s top mouthpieces, People’s Daily and Xinhua News Agency, both claimed that he created a “China Threat” theory. But in 1998, the CCP’s high-level officials acquiesced with Brown’s statement, but they never openly admitted the existence of food shortage issues in China.

In early 2004, Brown again published an article saying that in the five-year period from 1998 and 2003, China experienced reduced grain production in four years. The CCP had to import a large amount of grain, leading to an increase in international grain prices.

“While grain production is dropping, demand is climbing, driven up by the addition of 11 million people per year and by fast-rising incomes. As people in China earn more, they are moving up the food chain, eating more grain-fed livestock products such as pork, poultry, eggs, and, to a lesser degree, beef and milk,” Brown said in his article.

Back then, Brown predicted that China would soon need massive imports—up to 50 million tons per year—from the world food market.

“This means that the surplus world grain production capacity and cheap food of the last half-century may soon be history,” Brown wrote.

Jennifer Bateman is a news writer focused on China.
Ellen Wan
Ellen Wan has worked for the Japanese edition of The Epoch Times since 2007.