Although getting a piece of good, grass-fed steak can be really expensive, a new study has found that Americans actually spend less money on meat than most other people around the world. The “meat index,” compiled by Caterwings, a U.K.-based business-to-business catering company, found that American meat is actually moderately priced, whereas in Europe it’s twice as expensive, or sometimes more. In parts of Asia, some people can barely afford meat at all.
The study examined 50 countries’ prices for beef, chicken, pork, fish, and lamb, and found that the most expensive place to get some beef is Switzerland, where people pay about $29 a pound for tenderloin. The same beef tenderloin goes for $17 a pound in the U.S.
Norway, Hong Kong, Israel, Sweden, and South Korea follow closely behind Switzerland for pricey meat. The researchers concluded that in Switzerland, meat is pricey mainly because of trade tariffs. And in Hong Kong, most of their meat is imported, which obviously contributes to its price tag.
Interestingly, the study also broke down how much people have to work to get a cut of meat on their plate at home. In Hong Kong, for example, where meat is expensive, people have to work about an hour for chicken, or five to eight hours for beef and pork. But in places like Indonesia, where meat seems super cheap, it’s actually the least affordable, given the low minimum wage and tough job market there.
The economics of food around the globe is very, very nuanced and complicated — and it will only get more complicated given the effects of climate change and ongoing globalization. That’s something to consider the next time you’re complaining about the cost of antibiotic-free chicken breast at the grocery store — Americans only work about 90 minutes per pound for it, whereas in India someone has to work 10 hours to get the same meat. Shocking, right?