May 4, 2017 / 8:47 AM / 2 years ago

UPDATE 1-China's Cofco to import more European dairy, meat products

(Recasts, adds comments on European imports and background)

BEIJING, May 4 (Reuters) - China’s state-owned Cofco Corp will import more dairy and pork products from Europe to meet the growing demand for high-end food products, the conglomerate’s Chairman said on Thursday.

The higher imports, along with an expansion of its domestic production, comes as China works to reform its sprawling agriculture sector, to optimise the supply structure, and keep up with changing consumer demand.

“Cofco’s purchase capacity in Europe will be further boosted as the Chinese economy develops and the Chinese people’s diet structure improves, especially as organic foods gain popularity among the pubic,” Cofco’s Chairman Zhao Shuanglian said at the signing ceremony for an agricultural food cooperation agreement between Cofco and the Danish Embassy.

On the sidelines of the same ceremony, Cofco Vice President and Chairman of its meat division Ma Jianping said the company plans to increase its pig farm capacity by two-thirds to 5 million hogs per year by 2020, to meet demand in the world’s biggest pork market, said on Thursday.

Cofco’s current capacity is 3 million tonnes.

In a rural policy document published earlier this year, known as the No. 1 document, China embarked on a major shift in its agricultural policy, abandoning a long-held focus on self-sufficiency in favour of better meeting consumer demand.

Beijing is trying to rebalance output away from basic grains towards foods such as meat, dairy and other higher-value products increasingly in demand from its urbanising population. (Reporting by Hallie Gu and Josephine Mason; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

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