The South American country with a longstanding identity to beef and the cattle industry has seen its per capita beef consumption decline as diet trends and the beef industry has changed over time.
The New York Times reports Argentina’s beef consumption has declined substantially over the past 60 years, dropping from 222 pounds per person in 1956 to 129 pounds per person last year. Although the average ranks well above the United States’ 57.5 pounds per person, it has fallen below the neighboring country of Paraguay and the new leader, Uruguay.
While the country is dealing with higher beef prices and land moving from pastures to crops, diet trends over the past decade also explain the reduced consumption. Fox News reports tastes have changed in Argentina, identifying a growing vegetarian market.
Health concerns have consumers selecting alternatives to beef as sales of poultry, pasta and pizza are all increasing.
Shrinking herd sizes have limited beef supply in Argentina, who is now 11th on the list of global beef exporters behind both Mexico and New Zealand.
Argentina’s government has taken action to assist the beef industry. According to the New York Times the country’s government established a “Meat for Everyone” program to provide consumers in Buenos Aires over a dozen cuts of beef at affordable prices. According to TIME, export taxes on Argentine beef tripled from five to 15 percent to keep beef inside the borders. The price controls and export limits, which have moved only seven percent of the country’s beef production out of the country, have helped domestic consumption recover from a record low in 2011.
Fox News reports some farmers claim the government solutions have made it more difficult to manage cattle herds, which has forced cattle producers to switch to soy farming.