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High Protein Foods to Be Promoted in China

Milk and soybean products are expected to appear more often in the daily diets of ordinary people in the course of the next ten years.

In a paper outlining plans for improving nutrition between 2001 and 2010 published Thursday, the State Council gave the promotion of vegetables and foods with high protein, such as milk and soybeans, top priority in their development strategy.

Through the more than 20 years of development since China adopted its opening-up and reform policy in late 1970s, there have been significant improvements in the makeup of people's daily food intake, and corn and wheat no longer play the dominant role in people's daily diet that they once did. People now want to eat nutritiously, not just fill their stomachs, the outline said.

In 2000, the average individual consumed 206 kilograms of corn and wheat, 110 kilograms of vegetables, 25.3 kilograms of meat, 11.8 kilograms of eggs, 5.5 kilograms of milk and 11.7 kilograms of aquatic products per year.

Their consumption of egg, milk and aquatic products, all high-protein products, has increased dramatically from 1990 levels.

The plan points out, however, that the increase is not enough. The proportion of high-protein and nutritious food in people's diets is still far below the optimum level.

China now produces some 5,000 billion tons of food (mainly corn and wheat) a year. By 2010, the number is not expected to be go above 5,700 billion tons, which the government considers will be enough to feed the country's 1.4 billion people at that time.

Most redundant producers in the industry will be encouraged to switch to food processing.

In the long-term goal the plan sets for 2010, the daily consumption of vegetable, fruits, egg, milk, soybean and aquatic products will all increase sharply. Corn and wheat products are expected to rank the first place in people's consumption, but vegetables will significantly close the gap.

The plan will pay more attention to the improvement of diet in rural areas, especially in the remote villages in western China. People there, with their relatively backward economy, have more difficulty in achieving the balanced diet of their urban counterparts.

Children, women and older people will also enjoy better care from government during the period. Health experts define them as the groups most likely to suffer from malnutrition.

Sources with the Ministry of Agriculture said the plan was worked out through the joint efforts of seven ministries over the course of a year.

"Though it will take a long time to fulfill the goal,'' the sources said, "we hope the plan will help accelerate the improvement of people's diet in the short term as well.''

(China Daily December 7, 2001)

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