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Pigs ate 45% more grain than the people of China

China is the world’s leading consumer of both wheat and rice. The pigs on pig farms in China ate 431 million tonnes of grain in 2019. This is 45% more than the quantity of grain consumed by the people of China. Nearly half the world’s grain was used as fuel or was eaten by animals (in 2019?) reports The Economist. Bearing in mind the current global food prices because of the war in Ukraine and for other reasons and also bearing in mind that the UN World Food Programme has warned that 47 million people are at risk of hunger as a result, the consumption of grain by pigs in China is startling.

China pig farm

China pig farm. Picture in the public domain.

It kind of points to the fact that pigs are more important than people when it comes to starvation. Maybe they are. In a way it is a type of equality but it does seem very odd to me. Perhaps it means that there are too many people on the planet and in China. It does hint at the possibility of a food shortage problem to come.

China is home to half the world’s 1.3 billion pigs. Half of all the pork on the planet is eaten by Chinese people. The country has the world’s largest pork-processing company the WH Group.

Although, it is said that the average person in China only consumes 24.4 kg of pork a year. Perhaps it is because of the high population of the country. The population of China at 2019 was 1.4 billion. Therefore, Chinese people in China eat over 34 billion kg of pork annually.

Pork is the most commonly consumed meat in China. It is used in almost every meal. Throughout history the Chinese have been dedicated pork eaters. Pigs were among the first animals domesticated for food in ancient China around 6000 BC.

The middle classes of China have a growing appetite for steaks and ribs. The country is loosening restrictions on beef imports to service this appetite.

The information about the quantity of grain being eaten by pigs comes from The Economist and they were accused of racism by Chinese state-sponsored journalists and social media because they compared the total amount of grain eaten by pigs to the amount eaten by humans.

It seems to me that the Chinese journalists are thin-skinned and are overly sensitive. The reason why The Economist referred to China in their article was because, as mentioned, China was selected because it is the world’s leading consumer of rice and wheat. A good justification.

China has a big idea for pig farming: they are building pig farms in what looks like car parks. The latest one has 26 stories, is air-conditioned and has maternity facilities. China is planning a series of high-rise pig factories as an alternative to farming pigs on land because they are running out of space.

The equivalent multi-storey pig farming facility occupies about 1/5 of the space of farms on land in the conventional sense.

They are more expensive to build but over the long term they may be worth the cost. In the southern province of Guangdong where they like to eat cat and dogs by the way, they have more than 170 multi-storey pig farms.

China is building these high-rise pig farms under the Ezhou Project. It began two years ago at a cost of 4 billion yuan (£480 million).

China is the world’s biggest producer and consumer of pork. These high-rise facilities are highly automated. They have 30,000 control points to enable precision feeding. The feed is distributed to all floors in an enclosed system which prevents contamination.

The buildings have sophisticated monitoring systems controlling humidity, temperature and air quality.

What’s missing from the description is how the pigs feel about it. The environment is obviously highly unnatural, and they will spend their entire lives inside what is essentially a high-rise car park. Everything is concrete I suspect. Is this right? Is this just another example of animal abuse in China?

Below are some more articles on China.