Tag Archives: food security

Food waste research in China

Cheng, Shengkui (2014). Special session: Food waste research in China : motivation field study, and preliminary results. The Last Food Mile Conference, December 8, 2014, Philadelphia, USA. http://repository.upenn.edu/thelastfoodmile/sessions/session/21.

Food Waste Away-From-Home in the Beijing Urban Area—An Estimate Based on First-Hand Data

Reducing food waste is attracting growing public attention in China, and is widely acknowledged to contribute to abating interlinked sustainability challenges such as food security, climate change, and water shortages. However, the pattern and scale of food waste throughout the consumer stage is poorly understood in China, despite growing media coverage and public concerns in recent years. This paper aims to the estimate food waste away-from-home in the Beijing urban area, mainly based on first-hand surveys.

During the first-hand surveys in the catering sector in the Beijing urban area in 2013, 187 restaurants were investigated, which can be divided into large, middle, small, canteen and fast food categories. Finally, 3833 samples were been collected, and each sample included two parts: a consumer questionnaire, and the weight of food waste generated.

The main conclusions are as follows: (1) It is estimated that about 79.69 g food waste were generated per capita and per meal away-from-home in the Beijing urban area. Obviously, the food waste varied greatly depending on the type of restaurant. For example, the generation in large restaurants was more severe, up to 3 times that in fast food restaurants. (2) The food waste generated comprises many different food groups; the most prominent by weight were cereals (25%), vegetables (41%), meats( 13%), seafood products (11%), poultry (7%), legumes (1%), eggs (2%), and dairy products (less than 1%). (3) According to different purposes and motivations of the meals, the estimate of food waste is: friends meeting (109 g), public events (95 g),family parties (62 g), working meals(63 g) (4) Causes of food waste away-from-home identified in urban China predominantly involve: lack of awareness, portion sizes, individual food preferences, income, and age of the diner. (5) On this basis, the study estimates annual food waste generation away-from-home in the Beijing urban area at approximately 298×103 tonnes, requiring the inputs of about 93441 hm2 arable land, 774020 hm2 grassland, 2461 hm2 water area and 829×103 m3 water wasted without benefit to the consumer.

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Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Food safety and food security in Asia

Panel on food safety and food security in Asia as part of the third Global Asias Conference, to be held at Penn State University on April 9-11, 2015.

  • Papers on issues of health and national security in connection with networks of food production and distribution are encouraged in any discipline or national focus within Asia.
  • Please send a 250-word abstract and brief c.v. to Jessamyn Abel at jessamyn.abel@psu.edu by November 15, 2014.  The panel description is pasted below, followed by a general description of the conference.

Asia in the Global Food Chain

The global expansion of food supply networks, while delivering a variety of foods around the world, has also heightened concerns about food safety and security.  In the market-opening mood of the 1990s, worries about Japan’s food security fueled support for import barriers on staple foods, and the looming threat of an influx of foreign rice sent Japanese consumers into an anxious frenzy of stock-piling domestic grain.  More recently, one tainted food scandal after another has inspired bans on imports of food from China, while spurring wealthy Chinese to import suitcases-full of goods like infant formula.  For centuries, the absence, availability, and provision of food has been a key element in the vibrancy of overseas Asian communities and the ability of immigrants to feel “safe at home” in their adopted country.  This panel will explore the intersection between issues of food safety and security and Asia’s place in global networks of immigration and trade.

Global Asias 3

Penn State’s Department of Asian Studies announces Global Asias 3, a conference to celebrate the launch of a new journal, Verge: Studies in Global Asias (published by the University of Minnesota Press).

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Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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Chinadialogue (https://www.chinadialogue.net/) was launched on 3 July 2006 by an independent, non-profit organisation based in London and Beijing. It is a completely bilingual website that focuses on environmental issues like climate change, pollution, and water and food security. A website worth exploring.


Chi-Han Ai

Ph.D. candidate of EHESS ( École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris) focusing on regional economic development in China and Taiwan.

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Pollution and China’s food security

Tiezzi, Shannon (2014, January 1). Pollution threatens China’s food security. The Diplomat. (Retrieved 10 January, 2014).

Reuters report this week noted that nearly 3.33 million hectares (eight million acres) of Chinese farmland are too polluted to grow crops. The article, which was re-posted by the state-run China Daily news site, quoted Wang Shiyuan, China’s vice minister of land and resources. Wang says that the government is determined to address the issue of polluted farmland, and will commit “tens of billions of yuan” each year to help return the land to a usable state.

Food security is a major concern for Chinese leaders, and worries over this issue already had the potential to severely slow down other planned reforms such as urbanization. The announcement on China’s pollution levels further complicates the balance of preserving farmland and speeding up urbanization. Wang Shiyuan noted that the amount of polluted land represents nearly 2 percent of the country’s arable land, which is not something the Chinese government can ignore.  China’s per capita arable land area is already less than half of the world average — the country simply can’t afford to lose any more land to pollution.

China’s government wants to ensure enough arable land is left reserved for farming, and the large swath of polluted fields cuts into that amount. Xinhua reports that China’s arable land survey counted about 135.4 million hectares (334.6 million acres) of farmland — but after removing from that count land reserved for “forest and pasture restoration” as well as land too polluted for crop-growing, the “actual available arable land was just slightly above the government’s red-line” of preserving 120 million hectares (296 million acres) of usable farm land. In other words, pollution is presenting a dangerous threat to one of the government’s highest priorities.

This presents a tough choice for Chinese leaders: let the land lie fallow and risk disrupting food supplies, or allow crops to be grown on tainted soil. Wang’s remarks show the government is leaning towards the former. Tainted crops have already caused scares among China’s citizens. A report by Guangzhou in May found that nearly half the rice in the cities’ restaurants had excessive levels of the heavy metal cadmium. The city’s residents were outraged when the report was published.  The rice in Guangzhou was linked to polluted plots in Hunan province, which produces 11 percent of China’s total rice each year. Caixin published an article arguing that cover-ups by both local and provincial governments allowed the problem to spread before it exploded into the public consciousness in late spring 2013.

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Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Kunming confronted to the issue of recycled cooking oil

Luo, Chris. “Kunming struggling to deal with ‘gutter oil’”. South China Morning Post. 27 June 2013.  http://www.scmp.com/article/1270196/kunmings-making-gutter-oil-use-comes-stall [Accessed 27 June 2013]

Kunming, the capital city of China’s Yunnan province, is having problems dealing with recycled cooking oil – often derisively referred to as “gutter oil”. City municipal officials told the Chinese media that the problems with “gutter oil” have existed for centuries.

His comments attracted widespread condemnation from internet users. Some accused city authorities of shirking their responsibilities over the issue.

The use of illegal cooking oil – recycled from waste oil – is rampant in China. And because waste oil contains harmful carcinogens and other pollutants, mainland authorities have been determined to crack down on it for years.

Kunming has a national pilot scheme which converts recycled cooking oil into bio-fuels for vehicles. But the scheme is not working very well, the media also reports […] Read more

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Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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