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Argentines giving up beef

After a decade of growth, Argentina faces a sharp decline this year as industrial output falls and one of the world's highest inflation rates hits consumer spending and new investment. The economy had grown steadily since recovering from a 2001-2003 debt crisis and it expanded 3 percent last year but it stumbled in the fourth quarter and likely slid into a recession at the start of this year. That is now expected to drag on for most or all of 2014.

The 20 percent devaluation - the biggest in a decade - stoked inflation as Argentines, who often think in dollars because they lack faith in their own currency, raised prices to adjust to the new exchange rate. It also made the cost in pesos of imported goods and big-ticket items like houses that are sold in dollars jump. Independent economists see inflation hitting at least 30 percent this year with some predicting as much as 45 percent.

The hike in prices is even hitting beef consumption in a country where "asado", beef roasted on a barbecue, is part of the national identity. Consumption fell more than 5 percent in the first quarter of this year, agriculture ministry data shows.

Information provided by Reuters / BeefPoint



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