Beef consumption in Argentina — one of the world’s top producers and consumers of the meat — has fallen to near-record levels amid a biting economic crisis, an industry body said Tuesday.

In the first quarter of 2024, beef consumption dropped to its lowest level in three decades, according to the CICCRA meat industry chamber.

This amounted to nearly 10 kilograms (22 pounds) less per person, per year.

According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, Argentina has some of the world’s most carnivorous inhabitants — until recently consuming nearly 50 kilograms (110 pounds) per person, per year.

The South American country is battling an economic crisis that has seen purchasing power slashed in four months under self-declared ‘anarcho-capitalist’ president Javier Milei and his budget-cutting measures.

Poverty affects nearly 60 per cent of Argentina’s population.

Year-on-year inflation is at more than 280 per cent. For beef, the annual price increase was 278 per cent in March.

Butcher Carlos Principe told AFP in Buenos Aires he now sells more cheap cuts of meat and said his sales dropped by 25 per cent in the first quarter of this year.

‘Consumption went down a lot,’ the 75-year-old said.

Argentine beef exports, meanwhile, increased by 22.9 per cent in March from the year before.