The surge in Meat consumption in developing countries: Two views

In this section, the examination of market forces in developing countries will shed some light on the recent phenomenon of an increase in beef consumption in Asian countries. Beef has not been a traditional part of the diet in the Asian countries as much as pork and sea products has generally been. Thinking about the rise of meat consumption in growing Asian countries only as a consequence of an increase in wealth is overly simplistic. The market point of view presents a linear explanation that blames unsustainable consumption solely on income increases, widening consumer choice, falling retail prices, and taste preference in an growing global marketplace. The motor behind this view is the consumer who is swayed by his or her preference of products and is limited by income and the choices he or she encounters in the market. The government and international organizations work towards keeping an open yet competitive market. Producer interests are implicitly seen as adapting themselves to market preferences so the consumer has the upper hand in the control of the market in this view.

The political economic perspective articulated by scholars such as Sjur Kasa, state that the role of producers has a greater influence over consumer behavior and that market liberalization efforts are often influenced by producers’ interests. This view focuses on how the emergence of new markets benefits powerful nations and well-organized producer groups. A more complete understanding of the surge in meat consumption and imports in Asia challenges the notion that the increase comes from higher incomes in the middle class alone. Given the trends in this particular consumption, it is important to look at the model of the American meat industry and how it emerged in order to better understand the Asian phenomenon.

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