Bamboo – Chinese eat it too

You can find bamboo objects in European homes and occasionally life bamboo growing in European gardens. Clothes made of bamboo fibre are also appearing. When you ask Europeans if they would like to taste bamboo, they may be less eager. Chinese obviously do not eat full-grown bamboo. Only panda bears do that and even they do so with some diffulty. Chinese eat bamboo shoots, very young bamboo.

Dried bamboo shoots have a bright yellow colour and tender meat. They are rich in nutrients like protein, cellulose, and amino acids. They fit the requirements of the modern consumers: low fat, low sugar and high in dietary fibre. Bamboo shoots are in trace elements like calcium, phosphorus, iron, carotene, vitamins B1, B2, and C. According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), bamboo can increase appetite, prevent constipation, cool and detoxify. It is a pure natural health food that is popular among consumers.

China is one of the largest producers of bamboo in the world. There are 22 genera and more than 200 species distributed throughout the country. However, the main bamboo species for excellent bamboo shoots are the red shell bamboo from Xiacun Township, Yanling County, Hunan, the yellow bamboo from Guangxi Lei bamboo and early bamboo in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River and the Pearl River Basin, Lin’an, Fujian, Yichun City, Wanzai County, Yifeng County and other regions in Jiangxi Province, Moso bamboo, Moso bamboo and green bamboo in Taiwan and other places.

Production

Data from the “Analysis Report on the Development Status and Future Prospects of China’s Bamboo Shoot Industry from 2021-2027” released by IRG shows that the production of bamboo shoots in China has been steadily increasing during the past few years. The following table shows the production and growth of the period 2018 – 2019.

YearVolume (mt)Growth (%)
2017858,08311.3
2018805,691-6.1
20191,032,50528.2
Canned bamboo shoots

Top regions

According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics, in 2019, the highest output of dried bamboo shoots was in Fujian: 214,917 mt; followed by Zhejiang with 191,223 mt of dried bamboo shoots; and Guangxi with 180,536 mt of dried bamboo shoots. Combined, these three regions were good for almost 57% of the total national production.

According to data from the Zhejiang Bureau of Statistics, the output of dried bamboo shoots in Zhejiang Province is relatively stable. In 2018, the production of dried bamboo shoots in Zhejiang Province was 197,434 mt, up 5.8%; in 2019, the production of dried bamboo shoots in Zhejiang Province was 191,223 mt, up 3.1%.

The Tianmu Mountain region in Lin’an, Zhejiang, is known as the southern bamboo town. The famous dried bamboo shoots of Tianmu are mainly made from fresh bamboo shoots of Dianthus. It was famous around the world as early as 400 years ago. There are five main types of dried bamboo shoots in Tianmu. The thicker and softer ones are called “fat buds”, the thin and long ones are called “bald buds”, and there are “Xiaoting”, “Straight Tip”, “Bakeout”, etc. “Fat buds” are suitable as an ingredient for roasting meat, “bald buds” and “Xiao Ting” can be used in soups, and “Bao Ting” are made from the tender tips of bamboo shoots, which regarded as the top grade in dried bamboo shoots.

Packed shredded bamboo shoots

Foreign trade

In 2019, the export volume of dried bamboo shoots and shreds from China was 1865.5 mt, and the import volume was 35.6 mt. From January to November 2020, the export volume of dried bamboo shoots in China was 1631.2 mt, and the import volume was 36 mt.

According to China Customs data, in 2019, the export value of dried bamboo shoots and shreds in China was USD 17.584 mln and the import value was USD 693,000. In 2020, the export value of dried bamboo shoots and silk was USD 21.696 mln and the import value was USD 729,000.

Value-added products

A number of companies have developed value added products other than the traditional shoots and shreds. A good example is Tiankang Green Bamboo Biological Products Co., Ltd. (Zhaoqing, Guangdong). Its main product is a beverage with bamboo shoot juice and also produces lyophilized bamboo juice powder and bamboo dietary fibre.

Some of Tiankang’s products

Eurasia Consult Food knows the Chinese food industry since 1985. Follow us on Twitter.

Eurasia Consult Consulting can help you embed your business in Chinese society.

Peter Peverelli is active in and with China since 1975 and regularly travels to the remotest corners of that vast nation. He is a co-author of a major book introducing the cultural drivers behind China’s economic success.

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