China's food industry output expanded 14.2% in the first quarter of this year from a year earlier, and its profits rose 36.5% to ¥116.76 billion over the same period, said Xiong Bilin, deputy director of the China National Food Industry Association.
Profit margins edged up 0.27 percentage points to 7.36% between January and March, compared to 6.4% for the whole of 2010, according to Xiong.
Xiong expected the industry's output to grow 14% to 15% this year but warned of a possible decline in profit margins due to ballooning raw material costs. China's soybean imports totaled 54.8 million tons valued at $25 billion in 2010, up 28.8% and 33.5% respectively from a year earlier; dairy imports totaled 417,300 tons valued at $1.39 billion in 2010, up 67.9% and 138.8% respectively from a year earlier; and the value of total food imports were up 29.4% to $59.86 billion in 2010, leading to a $14.72 billion food trade deficit.
Xiong predicted China's strong appetite for imported food would last for quite a while.