Argentine Beef back on Menu as Economy Thrives

ARGENTINA - A few years ago, an economic crisis and soaring steak prices made beef a luxury for many Argentines. But beef is back on menus again, raising fears stagnant production will not be able to keep pace with demand, Reuters research reports.
calendar icon 21 January 2008
clock icon 1 minute read

"You can't change the Argentine custom of eating a lot of beef," said William Hayes, president of meat export firm Argentine Beef Packers. "As soon as there's more money, beef is always the No. 1 choice."

The world's biggest beef eaters, the average Argentine ate nearly 69 kilograms (152 pounds) of it last year, the highest rate for 13 years, according to the Argentine Beef Promotion Institute (IPCVA). That compares with about 43 kg per person in the United States.

At the height of a devastating 2001-02 economic crisis, millions of Argentines were plunged into poverty and beef consumption sank to its lowest level since the institute's records began in 1958.

Exports then jumped as the devaluation of the peso currency made them cheaper, driving up domestic prices beyond the reach of many poorer Argentines.

But the economy has grown more than 8 percent in each of the last five years, fueling fresh demand for the nation's favorite food.

The booming market for beef both at home and abroad has prompted a string of government measures aimed at keeping a lid on prices, including export restrictions, subsidizing feedlots and even promoting pork and chicken as alternatives.

For the Full Story Reuters

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