Bloomberg and other media reporting China massively stockpiling food essential, War fears muted

ByAdam Minter5 January 2022, 01:00 GMT

In recent months, food prices have hit 10-year highs, causing concern worldwide. Supply-chain bottlenecks, labor shortages, bad weather and a surge in consumer demand are among the factors responsible for the spike. So, too, is a lesser-known phenomenon: China is hoarding key commodities.

By mid-2022, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, China will hold 69% of the world’s corn reserves, 60% of its rice and 51% of its wheat. By China’s own estimation, these reserves are at a “historically high level” and are contributing to higher global food prices. For China, such stockpiles are necessary to ensure it won’t be at the mercy of major food exporters such as the U.S. But other countries, especially in the developing world, might ask why less than 20% of the world’s population is hoarding so much of its food.

China has operated granaries for thousands of years. In imperial times, they served as a source of tax revenue and a means of managing bad harvests, natural disasters, and war. Their importance grew as China’s population soared, yet the state’s ability to manage them faltered. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, natural and political disasters brought hunger and starvation to millions. Outsiders referred to China as “the land of famine.” Political instability and revolution soon followed.

Mao Zedong and China’s Communist Party staked much of their credibility on “solving” hunger, but midcentury famines took the lives of tens of millions. President Xi Jinping, never one to criticize his own country, once remarked that many members of his generation still recall hunger. Those memories have informed Xi’s policies since the start of his regime. In 2013, just weeks after taking office, Xi endorsed a nationwide campaign to discourage people from wasting food. In 2020, the “clean-plate campaign” was resurrected as he called on Chinese to “maintain a sense of crisis about food security.”

That crisis isn’t just about having enough to eat. It’s about having enough food produced domestically to minimize reliance on anyone else. Two weeks ago, Xi told a high-level Communist Party meeting that “the food of the Chinese people must be made by and remain in the hands of the Chinese people.”

That won’t be easy. China’s inventory of arable land has been in decline for decades, nibbled away by urban development and soil contamination, and its farms are far less productive than counterparts in other countries. Efforts to boost productivity with policy incentives and technology investments are promising but unlikely to pan out for years.

So China is stockpiling. At home, the government is offering farmers a minimum price for their crops (which are then often stockpiled). In March, it raised the minimum price for wheat for the first time since 2014. Meanwhile, traders have taken advantage of a  strengthening yuan to snap up grains at a feverish pace. China’s wheat imports surged 50% between January and July, compared to the same period of 2020.

The size and content of China’s commodity stockpiles is a jealously guarded state secret. But officials have been unusually open about the matter lately. In November, after a vaguely worded government missive about potential shortfalls this winter caused nationwide panic, agricultural officials announced that China had enough wheat stockpiled to last 18 months.

Other countries have been building up food reserves too, of course, especially as Covid-related disruptions persist. In June, the UN’s food agency warned that some low-income countries were likely to see food import costs jump as much as 20% for the year. Though the report didn’t single out any country for responsibility, China — as the world’s largest agricultural importer — certainly plays a crucial role.

Right or wrong, China has no intention of unwinding its stockpiles for the benefit of others. Nonetheless, there are steps it could take to help mitigate inflation. Most important, it should begin unwinding crop supports that raise domestic food prices beyond global ones. Meanwhile, a more open acknowledgement of China’s inevitable role in driving food inflation might encourage its leaders to work with others on food assistance to low-income regions.

China’s evolution from famine to feast delivered hundreds of millions of people from hunger. As its economy and clout grows, it should seek to ensure that others can enjoy the bounty.


  • Comments (15)

    • 3

      GUYS  please watch this brief video


      • 2

        That video makes a lot of sense on the why behind the stockpiling.

    • 4

      I liked the following statement: “That crisis isn’t just about having enough to eat. It’s about having enough food produced domestically to minimize reliance on anyone else.”

      More countries should build up a “food storage” so to say, and store food for the days ahead. Remember the story in the Bible with Joseph of Egypt? 7 years of plenty and then 7 years of famine. They were able to get through those 7 years of famine because they stored food during the 7 years of plenty.

      • 3

        During the Cold War many countries like the UK used to stockpile 90 days or more of Wheat, Meats,oil, Natural gas, Gasoline, Diesel, and other essentials  as a strategic reserve. But as soon as the CW ended many countries got rid of the reserves, Insanity in my opinion.

      • 2

        I am guilty of that sometimes too. I go through a situation and think to myself that I need to be better prepared by doing such-and-such but then when things normalize and I have the opportunity to do such-and-such I put it off or forget about it. 

        Another similar situation is when you move. You may eat up your food storage before you move and forget to replenish when you get established again.

      • 2

        Moving sucks. Moving when you’re a prepper REALLY SUCKS (lol)!

    • 3

      rumors today that they bought more

      Hmm, can’t find a link right now, but I read recently that China has excellent sat capability for monitoring crop conditions around the world . South America is currently having drought and excess rain issues…

      here’s more info,

      more ag info here


      these last links paint a pretty gloomy picture, so if that’s not what you want to read…

      Frankly , I hope he’s wrong, because I operate better in a more optimistic space.


      another couple https://worldedge.substack.com/p/daily-briefing-hiking-day

      sorry, I’m bumping this a little late but thought this stuff might be of interest.

    • 4

      If I understand you correctly China is doing the smart thing for their people and anticipating what the west seems blind to.

      This pandemic has taken a huge toll on all services and industries and very few governments have noticed and…instead chosen bury their head in the sand.

      It may be prudent for these governments to join their local prepping club rather than relying on others to feed their people….

      Should the SHTF……….. no one…and I mean No One will feed your family if you have not taken care of it yourself.

      Just prep and rely on no one….and you will be fine!

      • 3

        well… I added these links because I thought they gave some additional info to  Bill’s  Post.  If you want to understand me , many of my past posts encourage people to get involved in public policy, so we don’t have to deal with a bunch of folks who haven’t prepped, and  so elected officials don’t think they can decide how much prepping we can do, or maybe think they can start rationing things 🙂  . 

        dc rationing

      • 3

        Adverts similar to the one above when displayed in the UK actually helped to trigger panic the buying by the masses. The Prepper / Survivalist/ Off Gridder / Homesteader communities were pretty much unaffected.

        But at least no one mocks those communities any more 🙂

      • 2

        yes, browsing around social media , it seems that is the reaction we’ll see here as well. 

      • 2


        Here’s some speculation on the buying spree. China might know what’s coming in Ukraine? Like i said…speculation.


        twitter link

        ukraineukraine usda

      • 1

        I’m reading all sorts about what both Russia and China are plotting together. A few suggest Russia wants the Ukraine complete with a pro Russian puppet government, and China wil take advantage of the west becing locked down with Russia  to take Tiawan and possibly Australia.

        (China loves the Austrialian coal, iron ore and other plentiful minerals, but it would rather not have to pay for them)

      • 1

        They do not need to plot do they? They already own most minerals in Africa…… Have now pretty well completed the Belt and Road that gives them access to the whole of the civilized world and are currently heading into South America with a vengeance……

        Taiwan is their own sphere but Australia is a bridge too far though! But start prepping by learning Mandarin eh?

      • 1

        I’m guessing the ccp already can identify through tech who the preppers are and will be out to collect your stuff if they take over 🙂 .