(Photo: The typical “parrilla”, one of the favorite Argentine meal aside the pastas)

Buenos aires, February 11th. The beef consumption is into a dramatic slump in Argentina. According to the Ag-Industry Secretariat, in 2018 each Argentine ate 57,4 kilograms of beef along the year. Ten years ago the per carpita consumption rounded 67 kilograms a year, and at early ’90 surpassed 78 kilograms.

This is the picture. But the movie shows that the traditional animal protein source is declining dramatically as part of the Argentine’s diet. In December 2018, the annuallized per capita consumption dropped to 52,9 kilograms. The reason is simple: exports are rising faster than production. The boom of the Chinese beef demand rose the exports to 556,000 tons (carcass weight equivalent), over a total production of 3 million metric tons. The ratio export/output rounded 18%, the highest from 2009.

But in last december, exports expanded to 22% of the monthly production, and the trend is accelerating. According with the Fundacion Mediterranea (a think tank based at Cordoba Province), during January export rate surpassed 23%, and domestic market suffered the lack of the equivalent to 6 to 8 kg/percapita/year.

And the livestock market is feeling the export demand pressure. While dollar remained stable in the last months, the steer price doesn’t stop to climb. In early December, the Liniers Market Steer Index rounded AR$42 or US$1.12 per live kilogram. Now, steer index rounds AR$58 or US$1.53. It is expected that a rising of the steer in dollar currency brakes the export impetus. Meanwhile, Argentines suffers for the beef prices climbing.

In a Buenos Aires butchery, a kilogram of minced meat, the basically beef product, rounds AR$220 (tax included) or US$5.8. A sophiscated piece of rump and loin surpasses AR$400 per kilogram or US$10,4. Considering that the Argentine average wage rounds US$ 470 (monthly), that is to say that the purchase power is the equivalent to 45 kilograms of rump and loin a month.

This the reason why in the latests months, poultry and swine meat consumptino surpassed, for the first time in the history, the per capita beef consumption.