Which Countries Consume The Most Meat?

It won’t come as a surprise that, for sheer population size, China consumed the most fresh meat in 2012 – a whopping 81 million tonnes, which is just over one third of the global total.

[Let me just quickly point out that the data I’m quoting in this post pertains to fresh uncooked and unprocessed meat, including that bought from deli counters, and that packaged & processed meats (e.g. frozen, canned, etc) are excluded.]

So, which country do you think leads in global fresh meat per capita consumption…? Tip: It’s NOT the US. Not even close. Nor the sausage-crazed Germans.

I’ll put you out of your misery: Argentinians are the world’s biggest meatheads with 121kg consumed per person in 2012. It’s all down to their famous barbecues, I reckon… Next in line are Hong Kong (114kg), Portugal (110kg), Austria (105kg) and Australia (102kg). The US is in 10th place with 76kg, while Canada is just ahead of its southern cousins by 1kg.

At the rear end of the table is India, with less than 4kg per head – any self-respecting Argentinian would probably snarf that in a single weekend. There are two main reasons for India’s low meat uptake: Between 30-40% of its population are vegetarians, and one third live below the poverty line.

A fabulously on-topic sculpture, snapped at Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid last weekend

A fabulously on-topic sculpture, snapped at the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid last weekend

Who likes what?
Time to talk preferences. Globally, pork is the most popular fresh meat (38% of the total), followed by poultry (35%), beef (20%) and then we have, all aggregated into one on the database, lamb/mutton/goat.

The Chinese sure love their pork, it accounts for 64% of fresh meat eaten in China, followed by poultry. This order of preference is shared by Germany, France and Ireland. Poultry, on the other hand, leads in the UK and the US, followed by more expensive beef.

I can’t not mention canned meat, which is, as already pointed out, not included in the above stats. 2.8 million tonnes were consumed in 2012 globally. I know most of you are thinking ‘Spam’ right now, but this isn’t the world’s leading meat mulch, after all. It’s being outdone by two Chinese brands, Shineway (I reckon that’s ‘sinewy’ misspelled…) and Jinluo. Spam manages to scramble into third place, phew.

As you might have guessed from this, China is responsible for half the world’s canned meat consumption. Russia is in second place, followed by the US, Germany and the UK. In per capita consumption terms, however, Portugal leads, while China’s only in 17th place.

[Data Source]

9 thoughts on “Which Countries Consume The Most Meat?

  1. pollyheath

    That’s like a sadistic food pyramid, that is.

    On the topic of canned meat (ew), I offered my boyfriend a test to guess what was cat food and what was “army meat” (Russian canned meat) — he would not take me up on it.


  2. Anna

    This is a slightly disturbing, um, sculpture, albeit informative. I still dont know what different cuts are called, I just know that I like my steak as a sirloin, and everything else ground up (burgers, meat sauce).

    I wonder where Russia is on the fresh meat consumption. Steaks/burgers still arent big, but ‘cutlets’ (like beef patties) and especially kebabs are everywhere.


    1. ladyofthecakes Post author

      Russia… let me check… 45.8kg in 2012, up from 37.1 in 2007. That’s pretty much in line with the rest of Europe, although the trend is still upwards. National policy is geared towards self-sufficiency by 2014, but this isn’t going to happen….



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