Decades of economic growth have led to increasing incomes, changing lifestyles and dietary shifts among Chinese population. Meanwhile, distinct differences between regions and population strata can be observed. In rural areas, marginalized households are still struggling with basic livelihood and even micronutrient malnutrition due to unbalanced diets and poor health knowledge. In urban areas, growing intake of fat, sugar and processed foods increases the prevalence of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. At the same time, a number of food scandals have increased consumers awareness for food safety problems. The focus of this research area is to study Chinese socioeconomic development with particular focus on changing consumption patterns and entailing challenges for agriculture, food industry and health systems.
Rising demand and limitations in farmland have led to a restructuring of the Chinese agricultural and food sector. Measures include the rescaling of farms, novel business formats like revenue cooperatives, as well as new marketing channels. Moreover, new free trade agreements are intended to boost trade with agricultural and food products. These restructuring processes bear chances like economies of scale or improved market access for small-scale producers, however also raise new issues like the question of agricultural protection, managerial requirements or land regulations, which are studies in this research area.
In China, natural resources like land, water, and air are under critical stress. In addition to household consumption and industrial demands, agriculture contributes strongly to resources depletion and various forms of pollution into the environmental sphere. This research is concerned with studying the trajectories of resource use and environmental externalities and the effect of various agricultural and socioeconomic policies. The collected results are used to develop new coping strategies to mitigate environmental externalities and to discuss the perspectives of inclusive, sustainable agriculture.