Lately, a giant Chinese meat company Shuanghui International has brought the world’s largest pork producer Smithfield Foods at the price of 4.7 billion USD. The news immediately has gone viral on the internet in China. Chinese netizens can’t help associating with the country’s number one threat to ordinary people’s life: the food safety cheating.
In recent years, the food safety scandal in China never ends, from tainted baby formula to diseased pork, from polluted vegetables to heavy-metal rice. In fact, as the pace of the country’s economic growth gets faster, more food safety problems surface in the limelight. Nearly every food name you can think of can be or has been a target of cheating. Chinese people are living in fear. No one knows what will be the next problematic food item exposed in the newspaper. But all will keep being a guinea pig without knowing it.
Now the merger has aroused the suspicion of the Chinese public about whether Shuanghui International is trying to boost its meat quality by bringing in a foreign partner. After all, being cheated multiple times, Chinese consumers have lost faith in domestic food products. Imported food suddenly is what people are avidly after. They are so up-for-grabs, Hong Kong government has to limit quantities of imported baby formula sales to mainland visitors in order to ensure the supply of the city. Perhaps you have figured out why Chinese tourists in America are so generous with their money on foreign brands. Quality is the key (although vanity is part of it as well)!
It is a shame that Chinese food manufacturers cheat consumers against their conscience. I don’t understand why the government is so lame in food inspection and supervision. In this respect, China is far far far behind from the U.S., if you are one of those Americans who believe China will surpass the U.S. soon. While the U.S. emphasize on food quality, China is still struggling with food safety—a fundamental difference in my opinion.
Chinese people are consuming much more meat than ever. The country has been a net importer of pork since 2008. As urbanization develops rapidly in China, more people will adopt a meat-heavy diet. Thanks to globalization with the expansion of fast food chains and a high-calorie diet, in no time, Chinese kids will look no different from many other overweight children in the West. The merger of two large meat companies may be the good news for the meat-loving Chinese that good quality supply of pork will keep coming!