China is growing richer, and it wants more and more of what our land produces. US exports to the country are up 50% over 2008, and food led the pack last year—soybeans in particular. Why? They're cheaper to import than feed grain, and are used to beef up cattle and poultry, satisfying the country's growing preference for a meat diet, reports the Washington Post. China is also bringing in more of our dairy products, pork, beer, wine, and snack foods. The demand for nuts is growing so much, in fact, that the formerly struggling pecan industry is on the up and up. Other hot items: cars, medicine, and even trash, which copper and aluminum are pulled from.
But despite rising exports to China, business experts note that China remains a highly controlled economy. "The China market should probably be even bigger than it is," said the president of the US-China Business Council, adding "there are many market access barriers that make the market less than it should be." And there's one more sour note: Though exports are up, our trade deficit with China rose another $22 billion last year, to $295 billion. The Post notes that food exports are one of the few areas where we have a trade surplus with the country. (Read more US-China relations stories.)