Rabbit meat trade of major countries: regional pattern and driving forces
Keywords:rabbit meat, meat production, meat trade, comparative advantages
In in the last 60 or so years, the global rabbit industry has been growing steadily. This paper studies the global rabbit meat trade by focusing on trade growth and regional pattern. First, rabbit meat production
and regional structure are introduced, as the basis of trade. Then, the global rabbit meat trade is studied in detail, including trade growth, regional structural changes, comparative advantages and competitiveness of major countries. Finally, a gravity model is built to test major factors affecting the rabbit meat trade and
explore the driving forces behind the trade. The data come from different channels, including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, World Bank, the World Trade Organization and related government statistics. The results show that: (1) Over the past 60 yr, the global rabbit industry has achieved great progress. In the first half of the period, rabbit meat was mainly produced in Europe; then, rabbit meat production in Asia increased steadily and rapidly in the second half period, while European production decreased continuously. (2) The rabbit meat trade had been increasing for about 20 yr from 1961 to 1979, after which it fluctuated for another 20 yr. However, since 2001 it has been stable around an average level of 37 thousand tonnes, with only minor fluctuation. The trade pattern is currently from Asia (mainly China) and South America (mainly Argentina) to European countries. In 2018, the top 5 export destinations were Germany, Belgium, Italy, Portugal and France (3). Hungary and Argentina have been two strong competitors
in the last two decades, while Spain and Belgium are two new and promising countries in the rabbit meat trade. Now China no longer has comparative advantages in the rabbit meat trade (4). The gravity model results show that rabbit meat trade is mainly driven by demand. Countries with a high Gross Domestic Product tend to increase their imports more, but decrease their exports. Countries with higher populations export more rabbit meat but import less. Common language and contiguity of two countries have significant impacts on rabbit meat trade. Based on the above results, some suggestions and policy implications are provided. Rabbit farmers or processing companies should pay more attention to domestic consumers or neighbouring countries to survey potential markets; traders should explore more markets in order to reduce the degree of trade concentration and lower risks. Governments should popularise the nutritional knowledge of rabbit meat to encourage people (especially young people) to consume more healthy rabbit meat instead of pork, with a view to reducing obesity or other heart diseases, etc.
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