The Australian commodity forecaster reports there will be significant opportunities for the nation's exporters into Asia out to 2050, as long as Australia is strategic about which countries need its products.

'What Asia Wants' is the first in a series of reports under the National Food Plan, in which the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) maps long-term trends in food consumption across China, India, Japan and South Korea, as well as the ASEAN nations.

The report finds that while Asian countries will increase their own production of many commodities, that will not be enough to satisfy increasing demand, presenting a significant opportunity for exporting nations like Australia.

While the demand is significant in many countries, the commodities required will vary greatly.

In China, a trend towards high incomes and increased consumption of high-value food is expected to continue. ABARES predicts that China will be able to meet its own increased demand for rice, wheat, vegetables, fruit, pig meat and poultry meat to 2050, with little need for increased imports.

However, ABARES is projecting significant increases in imports for other commodities. Compared with 2007, the Bureau predicts China's demand for dairy products will more than double by 2050, and nearly double for sugar and beef. Demand for sheep and goat meat in 2050 will be 75 per cent higher than it was in 2007, while demand for vegetable oil will increase by 61 per cent. Demand for coarse grains is predicted to be 18 per cent higher in 2050 than it was in 2007.

That increase in consumption will likely require a significant increase in imports into China from countries such as Australia.

While meat is an important driver for increased demand in China, in India, where a large proportion of the population are vegetarian, its commodities such as vegetables and fruit (predicted to be worth US$14 billion by 2050) and dairy products (worth US$13 billion by 2050) where the biggest increases in consumption are expected.

India is already one of the largest consumers and producers of grain in Asia, and ABARES reports India is likely to remain a net exporter of rice and coarse grains out to 2050. India may be a relatively small market for wheat exporters however, with wheat imports projected to be worth US$1.5 billion by 2050.

Demand for high-value food in Japan and South Korea is not expected to grow at anywhere near the same rate, due to the relatively high income and food consumption levels that already exist in those countries. Population numbers and economic growth are also expected to decline in Japan and South Korea out to 2050.

On the whole, ABARES reports, demand for Australia's important export commodities should continue to grow across the ASEAN member countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand.

ABARES predicts that beef consumption in ASEAN countries will be 120 per cent high in 2050 than it was in 2007, while the value of dairy consumption should more than double over that time.

Imports from countries such as Australia are expected to play a crucial role in filling that demand for beef and dairy, as well as a projected 40 per cent increase in wheat imports into ASEAN countries by 2050.

ABARES projects the value of fruit and vegetable consumption in the ASEAN region to nearly double, and to be worth US$8 billion by 2050.

The ASEAN nations are predicted to be small net importers of sugar by 2050.


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