WTF Island

Turns Out America's Meat Is Relatively Affordable Compared To Other Countries

Wagyu steak at Killen's STQ
Wagyu steak at Killen's STQ Photo by Troy Fields
If you're wondering how the cost of America's beef, poultry, pork and more meaty items compares to other countries around the world, something called the 2017 Meat Price Index has just been released with findings that show what the world pays to play carnivore. Turns out America is pretty middle of the pack.

The study was conducted by Caterwings, an online catering company based out of the UK, which wanted to assess the global price of basic food items ahead of a planned expansion into foreign markets. According to their research, the cost of meat around the world varies widely, with Switzerland having the highest meat prices, an estimated 141.9 percent more expensive than the average cost worldwide, and the Ukraine having the least expensive meat, 52.3 percent less expensive than the average cost worldwide.

But things don't really get interesting, until you can see if residents of these countries are able to actually afford meat at all, as Caterwings' research team found out. Their methodology:

The data was gathered by analysing meat prices in every country’s top cities, which needed to account for at least 25% of the total country’s population. To determine affordability, these prices were cross-referenced with the minimum wage of each country and then calculated into the relative number of hours a person must work to be able to buy each type of meat.

According to their findings, you'd have to work 0.9 hours to afford chicken, 2.1 hours to afford pork, 2.6 hours to afford beef, 3.1 hours to afford lamb and 3.3 hours to afford seafood in America while on minimum wage.  The findings put into perspective the vast inequalities of foodways around the globe. It would take someone on minimum wage in Egypt more than 44 hours to afford fish, for instance, or another person in Mexico about 19.2 hours of work to afford pork.  In India, it would take 39.40 hours.

“What began as a simple catering cost price Index for market research has raised some important questions.” Caterwings managing director, Susannah Belcher said in a press release. “It is clear that international inequality exists, and as the world begins to rethink the implications of globalisation, this study clearly demonstrates that food prices ought to be on the agenda.”

The research also found that the United States ranks 18th overall in average cost of meat, coming in at 17.94 percent more expensive overall than the rest of the world. We also consume an estimated 84.2 kilograms, or 185.6 pounds, of meat per person a year.

Find the full 2017 Meat Index research online here.

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Gwendolyn Knapp is the food editor at the Houston Press. A sixth-generation Floridian, she is still torn as to whether she likes smoked fish dip or queso better.