Argentina has one of the highest rates of per capita average annual meat consumption of any country in the world and the amount of pigmeat included in this total is increasing.
Of course, beef still leads on the quantity consumed. Its annual average of about 72.5kg per person compares with some 26.3kg for poultry products. Only about 8.2kg of pork was eaten per person/year in 2007. Nevertheless it must be pointed out that this level of pork consumption is double the amount recorded in previous years. The significant increase achieved during the past year has been due to a combined and thorough effort made by the Argentine administration and pig producers.
The Argentine government is trying by all means possible to divert part of the very high local consumption of cattle products to alternative meats, in order to have an additional availability to export beef. With producers, therefore, it has embarked on an aggressive advertising campaign to promote pork as one step towards this objective.
The campaign can already be seen to have yielded excellent results. There is more to come. According to a forecast quoted by an official of the Argentine Association of Pork Producers, an extra 4.5kg or more of pigmeat could be added to the average diet of Argentineans in the next 18 months. The form of consumption also needs to be noted. During the decade of the 1990s it was normal for processed pork products such as ham and salami to represent over 90% of the total pigmeat uptake in Argentina. Now the situation is almost completely reversed, with fresh pork comprising at least two-thirds of all the meat consumed.
With more pork arriving on the Argentine menu it is not surprising that pig numbers have been rising recently. Official data for 2006 show 3 million pigs slaughtered for consumption nationwide. In 2007 this increased to some 3.5 million. The producer association contributes an estimate that the breeding inventory has grown by approximately 15% since the start of 2007 and now stands at around 200 000 sows. Moreover, association representatives say they expect to see another 50 000 sows added nationally in the near future.
Industry investment to bring about the growth worked out at the equivalent of US$35 million in 2006, but then soared in 2007 to US$50 million. Due to these efforts, pork is becoming more competitive in price against other meats, especially beef. This factor, more than any other, generated the amazing consumption increase for the product during 2007. Availability also has improved. Today you can find pork on sale not only in supermarkets or wholesale suppliers, but also at the butcher's shop, something that was not common only a few years ago.
Argentina exports pork, too. Just 204 tons of meat and by-products were exported last year. Mainly these exports went to Hong Kong, Germany and bordering South American countries. Their value of US$3.5 million was 6% higher than in the previous year. PIGI