Argentine meat consumption is up but the mix has changed
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Sheep meat is now the least popular
Patagonian lamb once considered worldwide as the crème de la crème in quality and taste is fading away as an option for local consumers to levels more in keeping with worldwide consumption. More than 50% of Argentine sheep breeds are now wool based.
Per capita consumption of sheep meat is declining
In Argentina this year the record of animal protein consumption was broken, with 118.4 kilos per capita per year. But while beef, chicken, and pork have all shown signs of growth, there is another that remains left behind: it is sheep meat, which barely reaches 1.8 kilos of per capita consumption per year.
The Argentine consumption of sheep meat is not very far, however, from the world average: 2 kilos per capita per year. The highest consumption is in Oceania (17 kilos per capita), followed by Africa (2.6 kilos); Europe (2.4 kilos); Asia (1.7 kilos), South America (1 kilo), Central America (0.8 kilos) and North America (0.7 kilos).
There are around 1080 million sheep in the world. Of these, 42% are located in Asia; 29%, in Africa; 12%, in Europe, and 9%, in Oceania and North America. In the global chain, international trade in sheep meat is concentrated in a few countries, and those with high relative importance in the stock do not have a dominant position in world trade. This is due to the fact that both in Asia and Africa and in Europe the flocks of sheep are small and destined to self-consumption or to the internal consumption of the countries is low.
Traditionally, Argentina oriented the exploitation of sheep to obtain wool, mainly in Patagonia, where the environment is difficult to develop another agricultural activity.
According to this wool tradition, more than 50% of the Argentine sheep stock corresponds to breeds that produce wool (Merino) and dual purpose (Corriedale, Romney Marsh, Lincoln) and Criolla. Only one bread is designed for producing meat, the Hampshire Down, and in recent years other breeds have begun to be bred for milk production (Frisona, Manchega and Pampinta).
In light of other disruptive changes in the protein industry, it will be interesting to see how tradition meat farming adapts.
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