- Title: Steak-crazed Argentines keep buying beef even as peso crash sends prices soaring
- Date: 28th August 2019
- Summary: SAN FERNANDO, ARGENTINA (FILE - JUNE 2016) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF WORKERS BUTCHERING BEEF INTO CUTS
- Embargoed: 11th September 2019 14:27
- Keywords: recession-hit Argentina peso currency food prices higher beef budgets butcher shops economy
- Location: BUENOS AIRES AND SAN FERNANDO, ARGENTINA
- City: BUENOS AIRES AND SAN FERNANDO, ARGENTINA
- Country: Argentina
- Topics: Government/Politics,Editors' Choice
- Reuters ID: LVA002AU4U4W7
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Times are hard in recession-hit Argentina and the peso currency's latest crash has jolted food prices higher. But in a country where eating beef is considered more a right than a luxury, people are stretching their budgets to keep buying steak while butcher shops see profit margins shrink.
Social life revolves around weekend barbecues for Argentines, rich and poor. The cherished image of the gaucho cowboy, wandering the pampas on horseback and dining on top quality steak around the fire, is as much a part of the nation's identity as the tango, Evita Peron, and financial crises.
The latest economic setback occurred earlier this month when a landslide victory for the populist opposition in an August 11 primary vote sparked a run on the peso and hobbled business-friendly President Mauricio Macri's campaign to win a second term in October's presidential election.
Stunned by the peso's fall, Argentina's cattlemen - who export much of their produce - pulled back from selling and waited for the volatility to pass.
The supply cut had the effect of raising prices. Many Argentines kept buying steak, nonetheless, opting to cut household budgets in other areas before depriving themselves of their main source of protein.
Consumer price inflation is expected at more than 3% this month, Macri said on Tuesday (August 27), up from 2.2% in July. But meat price increases seem to be outpacing inflation, according to consumers and butchers interviewed by Reuters. Official price data for August will not be available until next month.
With Argentina's main parties having already chosen their presidential candidates, the primary served as an opinion poll ahead of October's election.
Macri's poor performance caused an 18% slide in the peso, raising default fears by making it harder for Argentina to honour its dollar-denominated debts. It has revived memories of Argentina's 2001-2002 default and economic crisis, which tossed millions of middle-class Argentines into poverty.
(Production: Miguel Lo Bianco)
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