Diego Silva is feeling the effects of inflation at his butcher shop in Buenos Aires. Customers are buying meat, a central product of the Argentine diet, with their own wallets after price increases that hit consumption.
Argentina recorded its highest monthly inflation rate in 30 years this Wednesday at 12.4%, and 124.4% for the 12-month period. All rose, but primarily in the food category (15.6%).
The most popular common ground meat, for example, rose 39.4% in August, according to a report from the state statistics agency (Indec). The same goes for other small cuts.
“People who don’t have money come here every day to buy a little bit,” Silva told AFP outside his shop in the historic Mataderos meat district.
“He looks at the prices and looks at chicken and pork.”
This is barbecue country, where friends and family celebrate by grilling meat. In fact, the world’s main beef consumer is Argentina, followed by Uruguay, the United States, Australia, and Brazil.
In 2022, consumption increased to 52 kg per person, but this year, as in 2019 and 2020, “it will fall again to 46, 47 kg,” said Miguel, president of the Chamber of Meat and Processed Products (CICCRA).・Mr. Scheariti explains. .).
“Meat is the biggest harvest, and Argentines are carnivores,” Silva points out.
“People didn’t buy it.”
The rate of increase in meat prices this year was lower than general inflation.
Several factors came into play. For example, in droughts, corralled cattle gain weight faster, leaving many producers with oversupply.
However, dollar-denominated inputs increased due to the approximately 20% devaluation announced on August 14th after the primary election ahead of the October 22nd general election.
Prices soared 70% in two weeks and consumption plummeted.
“People couldn’t afford it anymore. It wasn’t that they put in another 1,000 pesos, it was that (they) said, ‘I can’t carry it.’
The decline forced the market to correct, but “it’s gotten a little more expensive,” Silva argues.
For example, Soledad Nocito changed his habits. “I started buying less red meat and more chicken. I started buying meat instead,” says the 36-year-old university professor, who works two jobs to make ends meet.
“The price of meat has gone up, so I will buy more vegetables (the price has also gone up).”
“That’s a little scary.”
Rene Godoy walks through Mataderos with this week’s shopping. He spent 20,000 pesos, about $55, on his meat.
“It’s scary, it’s a little scary,” said an employee at the restaurant. “I don’t have enough money, so I buy enough food for the week every week to survive.”
“I bought this today, but it might be more expensive tomorrow or maybe next Monday.”
CICCRA’s Scheariti expects prices to continue rising this year and next.
With the end of La Niña and the return of rain, producers hope they will be able to increase livestock grazing and control the market.
On the other hand, the climate caused many animal deaths and fewer pregnant cows, resulting in a reduction in supply. “The number of calves will be reduced by 1.3 million to 1.5 million head,” Schiarriti said.
Argentina is one of the world’s leading meat producers, and the majority of livestock is traded at the Cañuelas produce market outside Buenos Aires.
“That’s a nice cow, what should I wear to carry it? 15, 20, 30, 35, 40? 35!”: Agustín Laroll barely takes a breather at auction, continuing to sell thousands of cows in pens Masu. It ends up in domestic consumption or export.
From a raised walkway above cows, calves and bulls, buyers raise their hands to make offers.
“Inflation affects everyone,” Lalor said. “Those are costs…If you don’t increase the product you sell, indirectly or directly, your business becomes less profitable.”
Last month, a Buenos Aires butcher, fed up with inflation and the peso’s fluctuations, announced prices in dollars, partly as a joke and partly as an advertisement: “Beef short ribs = $5, minced meat = $3.” did.