A new national campaign against food waste in China has sparked a rare bout of speculation over the government’s ability to safely feed its 1.4 billion citizens when faced with floods, epidemics, locusts and rising tensions with some of its biggest trading partners.

The sudden and massive push to curb the problem of discarded leftovers — known as the "Clean Plates Campaign” — has puzzled experts who keep a close watch on the world’s biggest consumer of everything from grains to meat. Government officials have stressed that the country’s food reserves are ample, but some observers have nevertheless questioned the timing of a campaign aimed at reducing consumption when China’s economy is still recovering from the effects of the coronavirus.

Bloomberg spoke with almost a dozen agricultural traders, food company officials and industry researchers this week about the initiative, the majority of whom said they believed the push was targeted at reducing dependence on food imports in preparation for possible supply disruptions. China’s Ministry of Agriculture did not immediately respond to a request for comment.