Beef consumption in Argentina has been on a seemly steady downward trend. According the Argentinean Meat Industry Chamber local beef consumption decreased 9% in 2011 compared to the same period of 2010, to 51.6 kg per capita. Compared to 2006, tough, when the conflicts between the government and the beef industry arose, consumption plummeted 24.8%.

Therefore, the 2009 statement by Argentinean Institute for Beef Promotion saying “the Argentineans are, by nature, carnivores” no longer make that sense, apparently. At that time, the local consumption of beef was highest in the world, but in the stream of the conflicts, Uruguay now leads.

The government posture seems to be partially responsible for the hard days the beef industry has been facing down there. The statements made by the president Cristina Kirchner in different moments of a recent past, first suggesting pork consumption had aphrodisiac properties, then stimulating Argentineans to eat less beef and more of other animal proteins and, finally, publically exalting the benefits of chicken meat consumption for health, seemly had, altogether, a strong impact not on the diet of the population, only, but on the beef industry revenue, as well.

Therefore, the formerly known “steak country” seems to be undergoing a process of conversion to soon become the “chicken breast meat country” as, in the same period, the local chicken meat consumption grew 33%, to 37 kg per capita annually, from just 9.7 kg per capita, in 1980. The local poultry industry estimates the consumption may well reach 45 kg per capita. Yet hard to be achieved in such a short time, let’s wait and see! Likewise, the pork industry celebrates its performance, as well, as pork consumption in the first trimester of 2011 grew 8% compared to 2006, to 7.8 kg per capita, annually.

Market experts attenuate the effect of the governmental statements on the fall of local beef consumption by saying the driving cause behind it is the rise in the beef retail price, which has grown an average of 100% between 2009 and 2011, while some prime cuts rose astonishing 300%.

The government imposed stiff sanctions on the exports of beef from 2006 onwards, thus trying to increase the local availability and, therefore, breaking the ascending inflation rate. The decision, instead of increasing the domestic offer and pull retail prices consequently down, halted the investment in production. Consequently, the beef slaughter went down by 17% in the first trimester of 2011 compared to the same period of last year. According to the Argentinean Meat Industry Chamber, through April 2011 the country exported only 90,000 tons of beef, a former symbol of the local economy strength for two centuries. Ironically, in the same period Argentina exported 121,000 tons of fish.