Beef consumption in Argentina registered in 2011 its lowest per capita in 53 years, having dropped approximately 50% from 98.4 kilos in 1958 to 53.4 kilos last June according to the Institute for the Promotion of Beef.
“One of the motives was the 2009 drought and the other that cattle breeding profits have plummeted. Farmers turned over to soybean which is far more rewarding” said Gonzalo Alvarez Maldonado, IPCV president.
Furthermore the 180% increase in consumer prices since 2009 has also been a crucial reason for the 22.4% drop in per capita consumption of beef which in 2010 stood at 58.2 kilos.
In the first half of 2010 Argentines ceased to be the world’s main consumers of beef when they were overtaken by Uruguay with an average per capita consumption of 58.2 kilos according to the country’ National Meats Institute.
Soy beans which now occupy 18 million hectares of Argentine farmland has become the predominant harvest displacing not only cattle but other traditional grains such as wheat and corn.
Argentina has become the world’s third exporter of soybeans behind the US and Brazil.
“The Argentine cattle herd has fallen dramatically from 58 million head in 2007 to 48 million in 2011, a 20% drop” said Alvarez Maldonado.
He added that prospects for beef at more accessible prices is hard to view since in spite of the fall in per capita consumption the “beef barbecue” tradition is too ingrained in Argentine gastronomy culture.