At EatFirst, analysing food prices in London and around the world is vital for providing our clients with great service. To support our expansion into foreign markets, we commissioned a study into the price of some food items across the world. The data quickly yielded some interesting results, particularly in the meat sector. Not only does the price of meat vary massively from country to country, but there is also an enormous disparity in its affordability for people all around the world and how much it costs to cook a healthy meal. To share these insights, we created the Meat Price Index.
The research began by focusing on the top worldwide producers and consumers of meat, looking specifically at beef, chicken, fish, pork and lamb. After reviewing hundreds of food retailers, a list of countries was compiled focusing on the biggest producing and consuming meat markets. The data was gathered by analysing meat prices in every country’s top cities, which needed to account for at least 25% of the total country’s population. To determine affordability, these prices were cross-referenced with the minimum wage of each country and then calculated into the relative number of hours a person must work to be able to buy each type of meat.
To rank the index, we calculated the deviation percentage for each country to show how comparatively affordable or expensive each one is. This illustrated that Switzerland has the highest meat prices, while Ukraine has the lowest. One of the most interesting findings indicated that despite low prices of meat in countries such as India, someone on minimum wage must work almost a whole week to buy a piece of meat, while those in Norway would need to work less than 1 hour on minimum wage to afford the same.
The Meat Price Index is divided into five separate categories: beef, chicken, seafood, pork, and lamb. All prices were collected from national grocery outlets at full price without discount. For each category, prices for specific cuts of meat contributed to an overall value, the overall per kilogram price for beef, PKPi. This per kilogram price, PKPi , was divided by each country’s minimum wage1 MWi to indicate how long a minimum wage employee must work for each type of meat, Hoursi :
Finally, countries are indexed based on the average cost of meat by country xi, and ranked according to the percentage deviation of the local price Devi from the world’s average (mean) μ:
A negative value of Devi represents the percentile deviation below the world’s mean, whereas a positive value of Devi represents a positive deviation of the mean. E.g., 145% implies that the PKP of the country is 145% more expensive than the world’s average.
Leg Round – 1kg back leg meat,
Tenderloin – 1kg tenderloin meat,
Mince – 1kg minced beef, 10-20% fat.
Breast – 1kg breast fillet,
Leg – 1kg leg or thigh quarter
Chop – 1kg chop or loin chop cut, according to availability.
White Fish – 1kg tilapia, cod, or pangasius filet,
Salmon – 1kg salmon steak or filet, with or without skin,
Shrimp – 1kg average shrimp prices based on market availability by variety (e.g. whiteleg shrimp, coral shrimp, tiger prawn) in each country. Raw and unpeeled when available.
*For countries in which fresh seafood may not be available, average prices were based on frozen products.
*Shrimp is not widely sold in Israel and thus, was not included in the ranking. In this case, the absence of shrimp prices did not affect the country’s overall standing in the Index.
Chop – 1kg bone-out chop cut,
Sausage – 1kg ground pork sausage, uncooked,
Ham – 1kg large baked, smoked, or honeyed bone-in ham.*Pork is banned in many countries due to religious reasons. Some specialty stores may still sell this type of meat, but as it is not widely available, pork was not included in the rankings of certain countries. In this case, the absence of pork prices did not affect the country’s overall standing in the Index.
The average meat consumption, measured in kilograms per person, according to a study on per capita meat carcass mass availability by the Food and Agriculture Organization.
All meat and fish prices reported per kilogram for non-organic products. Data accurate, with currency conversions from Bloomberg Markets.
The federal hourly minimum wage by country was used to calculate the working hours needed to purchase each type of meat. If the country has no federal minimum wage, as in the case of Finland or Singapore (and in several other Asian and European counties) prices reflect an average salary for a job in general or unskilled labor. For more information, please contact [email protected]