USDA Ranks the World’s Largest Meat Customers

China has been the world’s largest meat importer since 2019. Despite recent reductions in imported meat volumes, the country remains in the top spot.

In 2022, China imported 43 percent more than Japan, the second-largest meat importer in the world. Mexico was third, followed by South Korea in fourth place. Issues such as disease, tougher laws addressing environmental issues, and an exodus of small-scale farmers have constrained China’s meat supply, boosting domestic prices and incentives to import.

As China’s most consumed meat, pork tends to dominate Chinese meat supply and demand. China surpassed Japan to become the top meat importer after the African Swine Fever virus sharply reduced the country’s pork supply in 2019. China’s meat consumption appeared to peak in 2014, but statistical model projections say that meat consumption will continue to grow through 2031 based on trends like dietary change and moderate growth in Chinese income and prices.