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China: Business trends, sustainability and food security

09/02/12
A report of the January 2012 meeting of the FEC’s Business Forum

Food security is a priority for China given its history. The country is only a generation away from the ‘Great Leap Forward’ when at least 30 million Chinese died of starvation. Forum members heard how China is focussing on internal solutions, through investing in ‘green’ agriculture and food production in and around cities, as well as more controversially investing in land overseas.

The January 2012 meeting of the Food Ethics Council’s Business Forum focussed on China and provided a fascinating insight into the rapid developments taking place in China driven by economic development and the need to address food security. Rapid urbanisation has been accompanied by radical changes in food consumption patterns towards unhealthy ‘western’ diets. Yet despite growing concern, a fat child has become a status symbol – a ‘Little Emperor’ – and a cultural norm.

We are very grateful to our speakers Vinh Sum Chau, Senior Lecturer in Strategy at Kent Business School; Richard Sanders, Professor of Contemporary Chinese Studies at Northampton University; and Yves Cabannes, Chair of Development Planning at UCL. The meeting was chaired by Michelle Harrison, CEO of TNS-BMRB and a member of the Food Ethics Council.

Read a report of the meeting.