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Why is Meat Getting Cheaper?

By Features Desk

Friday, August 31, 2017.

The idea that the price of meat in the US is declining might seem a little ridiculous. After all, when tenderloin is going for $20 a pound, and fresh shrimp is even more expensive, you may wonder how meat is affordable at all. But recent data from a UK-based catering service shows that globally at least, the price of US meat is low compared to prices overseas.

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According to data compiled by the company, meat price in places like Switzerland and Norway are between 40 and 100 percent more expensive than in the US. And while meat is cheaper in some poor countries, that has more to do with the low cost of labor than any fundamental issue in the meat market itself.

Why are prices so different?


One of the reasons has to do with taxes. Currently, Switzerland puts a high tariff on imported meats from the EU and elsewhere. Locals are willing to pay these tariffs because of their high incomes, and so, in many ways, Switzerland is in a unique situation - both politically autonomous but also extraordinarily wealthy. Even poor people in the country, according to Eater, are able to afford it. Those on minimum wage must work around 3 hours to earn enough money to buy two pounds of meat, compared to 2.2 hours in the US.

The US, however, is a meat-producer. Consumers in the US can buy US meat locally without having to either import it from abroad or pay taxes on it. Thus, the price of meat in the US reflects the cost of production in a way that simply doesn’t happen in many other developed countries.


There’s another big reason why meat is cheaper in the US: technology. The EU prevents the use of some technologies in animal farming, whereas the authorities in the US actively encourage it. Companies like Great Plains Processing have more freedom to formulate an reformulate their animal feed to maximise yields. Farmers themselves are allowed to rear animals in ways that aren’t allowed in European countries, pushing the price of meat down further. These production methods make meat production incredibly cheap compared to other developed countries overseas.

The US meat market has the added advantage of having close ties with Silicon Valley. Entrepreneurs in the valley have realized that agriculture is ripe for disruption and they’re looking for ways to make meat production cheaper and more environmentally sustainable. As a result, they’re beginning to experiment with non-animal forms of meat which could get rid of a lot of the land use, waste, and water consumption currently involved in producing meat.

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Even now, the Valley is having an impact. In the near future, there won’t be a farmer in the land who isn’t using some kind of smart technology to monitor his animals and keep them healthy. These devices are intelligent and adaptive and are able to inform farmers when they need to milk a cow, or when a particular herd needs antibiotics without having to create a timetable, which might be inefficient.

Meat is Getting Cheaper. Why?

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