People in richer countries eat more meat

In some countries people eat a lot of meat. In others they don’t.

And while many might point to religious and cultural reasons as being the primary determinants of meat consumption, there’s certainly an economic component to it.

In a recent note to clients, Nomura’s Rob Subbaraman shared a chart that shows that there is a correlation between higher gross national income (GNI) per capita and larger per capita meat consumption in given country.

In layperson English, that means that people tend to consume more meat in countries where people have more money (and, therefore, discretionary income).

For example, in Luxembourg, where GNI per capita is around $US70,000, people ate around 100 kg (220 lbs) of meat per year. On the flip side, in China, where GNI per capita is around $US11,000, people at around 55 kg (120 lbs) of meat per year.

“In addition to the rapid growth of low-income households in emerging economies, there is a compounding effect from a change in their diet to more expensive protein — and nutrient-rich foods — such as meat, dairy products and seafood — as incomes rise,” writes Nomura’s Subbaraman. “This effect is compounding because it takes 1.7 lbs of animal feed (e.g. gain, soybeans) to produce 1lb of chicken, 2.9 lbs of feed to produce 1 lb of pork, and 6.8 lbs of feed to produce 1 lb of beef.”

Take a look at some of the world’s biggest (and smallest) meat consumers in the chart below.

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