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Argentines to Eat Less Beef by 2011

02 September 2009

ARGENTINA - Bloomberg reports that Argentines will have to cut down on red-meat consumption by almost a third in the next two years because of a looming cattle shortage, said Hugo Biolcati, head of the Argentine Rural Society.

Consumption in the South American country, which was the world’s leading beef exporter five decades ago, will drop to 50 kilograms (154 pounds) per person in 2011 from 70 kilograms this year, the farm leader said. The shortage also means there won’t be enough to export, Mr Biolcati said.

“We are going to end up without enough production,” Mr Biolcati said in an interview to Bloomberg. “We won’t have enough for the domestic market.”

The worst drought in a century is drying up pastures and crops in 80 percent of the Argentine Pampas, Eduardo Sierra, said a climatologist for the Buenos Aires Cereals Exchange. The drought has forced ranchers to let livestock die in the fields at a time when birth rates are declining.

Cattle slaughtering rose to a record 1.1 million head in July as ranchers sold off their herds, the Argentine Beef Industry and Commerce Chamber said today, reports Bloomberg.

More than half of all cattle slaughtered were breeding stock, indicating the herd may shrink further, said Miguel Schiariti, author of the chamber’s report. The sell-off is “unsustainable,” he wrote in the report.

Argentina’s government began restricting beef exports in 2006 to boost more affordable beef in the domestic market.

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