File photo taken on Jan 12, 1973 shows a meat market in Shijiangzhuang, Hebei Province, north China. (Xinhua)
BEIJING, Sept. 24 (Xinhua) -- In President Xi Jinping's Tuesday speech in Seattle, he told a story about how people hungered for meat when he was young. Actually, almost every Chinese born prior to the 1980s share a similar story. Having meat was their dinner table dream.
Xi recalled the days he spent in Liangjiahe village in northwest China's Shaanxi Province in the 1970s, when meat was luxury food even for the Spring Festival, the most important traditional festival in China.
In cities, due to inadequate supply, people had to use coupons to buy meat, cloth and other daily necessities, which were distributed to each family by strict quota until the early 1990s.
However, things were totally different when Xi went back to the village earlier this year, he said.
Similar or even greater changes happened in a lot of places in China.
Now in cities meat is in free supply as a result of drastic increase in the country's meat production. People no longer use coupons to buy daily necessities.
File photo taken on Jan 29, 1981 shows a village pig farm in Chengyu village, Shaowu county, east China's Fujian Province. (Xinhua)
China produced 12 million tonnes of meat in 1980, 94 percent of which are pork. The annual meat production reached 52.6 million tonnes in 1995, while the proportion of pork dropped to 69 percent, according to National Bureau of Statistics, which means people now have more other alternatives, such as beef and mutton.
However, food safety has become a concern.
In 2011, a series of scandals involving pork were exposed. Pig farms were found using clenbuterol, a kind of fat-burning drug, to produce better-looking lean meat.
The reports caused wide public concerns about food safety, but meat consumption never stops growing.
Consumers were picking up pork in a supermarket in Meishan, Sichuan Province, west China. (Xinhua/Yao Yongliang)
What might have discouraged pork consumption is a trend of vegetarianism among urban people, who believe vegetables are healthier than meat due to increase of obesity and cardiovascular diseases.
The latest news about pork in China is that meat's price climbed sharply by 19.6 percent year on year in August, even driving the CPI to the highest level this year.
In addition, the price rise of organic pork is also remarkable in recent years, as more and more people are becoming aware of the importance of pork quality, or life quality.