Changing Diets in China's Cities: Empirical Fact or Urban Legend?

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2007-09-01
Authors
Dong, Fengxia
Fuller, Frank
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Center for Agricultural and Rural Development

The Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) conducts innovative public policy and economic research on agricultural, environmental, and food issues. CARD uniquely combines academic excellence with engagement and anticipatory thinking to inform and benefit society.

CARD researchers develop and apply economic theory, quantitative methods, and interdisciplinary approaches to create relevant knowledge. Communication efforts target state and federal policymakers; the research community; agricultural, food, and environmental groups; individual decision-makers; and international audiences.

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China’s economic reforms, which began in 1978, resulted in remarkable income growth, and urban Chinese consumers have responded by dramatically increasing their consumption of meat, other livestock products, and fruits and by decreasing consumption of grain-based foods. Economic prosperity, a growing openness to international markets, and domestic policy reforms have changed the food marketing environment for Chinese consumers and may have contributed to shifts in consumer preferences. The objective of this paper is to uncover evidence of structural change in food consumption among urban residents in China. Both parametric and nonparametric methods are used to test for structural change in aggregate household data from 1981 to 2004. The tests provided a reasonably clear picture of changing food consumption over the study period.

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