Article Summary: Beef is one of the most consumed meats globally, and its production significantly contributes to the world's economy. Several factors influence the quality and taste of beef, including the animal's breed, diet, and age. Various countries have confidently established themselves as top producers of high-quality red meat, according to experts, but which country is at the top? In this blog, we'll give you our verdict, exploring the top countries that produce the best beef and what makes their product stand out. In most cases, they tend to be some of the world’s biggest consumers and producers. The article also covers the pros and cons of each producer and how Australia (and New Zealand)’s beef is unrivalled in many ways. The future is bright for Aussie beef!
Beef is one of the most consumed meats globally, and its production significantly contributes to the world's economy. Several factors influence the quality and taste of meat, including the animal's breed, diet, and age. Various countries have confidently established themselves as top producers of high-quality red meat, according to experts, but which country is at the top? We'll give you our verdict in this blog, exploring the top countries that produce the best beef, what makes their beef stand out, and what Australia (and New Zealand) can keep doing to take the reins.
Let’s answer the often asked question, “Which country produces the best beef?”
The Top Global Beef Producers by Country
The United States of America is the world's largest beef producer and has a long-standing tradition of cattle ranching. American beef is known for its marbling, tenderness, and juiciness, making it a favourite among consumers worldwide. From traditional on-the-bone varieties to Japanese-inspired Kobe and Wagyu beef, the US are innovators and continues to diversify and broaden its offering while raising a population heavily reliant on a diet rich in beef. The primary beef breeds in the USA are Angus, Hereford, and Charolais, known for their excellent beef production qualities.
Brazil is the second-largest producer of beef globally and is famous for its grass-fed cattle. The country's beef is known for its rich flavour and tenderness, making it a favourite among people who enjoy red meat and key to their barbecue cooking method, ‘churrasco’. The most common breeds in Brazil are Nelore and Angus, which are well-suited to the country's climate and grazing conditions. Brazilians are the world’s fourth largest beef consumers, after the USA, the EU and China.
Argentina is renowned for its high-quality beef from grass-fed cattle grazing on the vast Pampas grasslands. Its' beef is known for its tenderness and rich flavour, attributed to the grass-fed diet. Argentina's primary beef breed is Hereford, known for its excellent meat quality and adaptability to different environments.
Australia is one of the world's leading beef producers, known for its high-quality, grass-fed beef. Characterised by its tenderness, juiciness, and flavour, it can be attributed to the country's pristine grazing lands and strict quality standards. The most common beef breeds in Australia are Angus and Hereford, like the US, and Shorthorn cattle, all excellent species for quality beef production.
Uruguay is a relatively small country but has established itself as a top producer of high-quality beef. The country's beef is produced from grass-fed cattle that graze on the country's fertile pastures, resulting in tender and flavorful meat. Uruguay's primary beef breed is Hereford, known for its excellent meat quality and adaptability to different environments.
Japan is known for its highly marbled beef produced from Wagyu cattle. The most famous type of Japanese beef is Kobe beef, which is highly sought after for its rich flavour and texture. It also undergoes strict hands-on processes to create marbling and exquisite tenderness. Japanese beef has a strict grading system, which ensures that only the highest quality beef is sold to consumers. This also means that it is high-end beef and not readily available or affordable for most people.
From Japan's highly marbled beef to Australia's lean grass-fed beef, there is something to suit every taste and preference. However, the United States of America stands on top for the overall quality and quantity produced. With its diverse range of beef products, including the highly sought-after Kobe beef, the USA is the go-to destination for beef lovers around the world.
Why is the US considered the top beef-producing country?
From highly marbled Wagyu beef to leaner grass-fed beef, this diversity in production means the USA can cater to a broad range of preferences and tastes, which is an essential factor when determining the top beef-producing country.
And don't forget the highly regarded Kobe beef from the USA found in top steak restaurants in major culinary destinations. It’s in high demand worldwide and known for its high marbling level, resulting in a unique and delicious flavour.
Did you know that data from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) shows that the USA's beef production has steadily increased over the years? This indicates its continued dominance in the industry and growing demand for its products.
Let’s try to remember that there are pros and cons for each top beef producer…
We’re proud that Australia and, in a broader sense, New Zealand are renowned worldwide for their high-quality grass-fed beef, which is typically leaner and healthier than grain-fed beef. Our industry is known for its controlled animal welfare and environmental sustainability standards, governed by robust regulations and codes of practice. To top it off, these standards are enthusiastically enforced by our government regulators. From this, some would even suggest that we consistently produce the world's highest-quality, sustainable and economically viable beef.
So how does this compare to the others?
The US beef industry produces many beef products for a growing market, including grain-fed and grass-fed beef. While the industry is also subject to strict regulations and standards for animal welfare and food safety, concerns are regularly raised over the use of antibiotics and hormones in beef production. This is not something we often hear in our region, which is a relief.
Argentina and Brazil are known for their high-quality grass-fed beef and extensive pasture systems. Plus, their beef is delicious. However, these industries have been criticised for lacking regulation and enforcement of animal welfare standards. Fortunately, this is not something that is acceptable in our region.
In terms of production volume, the USA and Brazil are the largest beef producers globally, while Australia and New Zealand produce a smaller but significant amount of high-quality beef for export markets. And while Japan makes some of the world’s most tender, highly-sought after meat, it is a relatively small market, meaning their prices are not competitive with these other nations and are sadly unaffordable for most people.
While each country has its unique industry and standards, Australia and New Zealand have established a reputation for producing high-quality grass-fed beef with strict adherence to animal welfare and environmental standards. And we should be proud. By focusing on these qualities and exploring innovative production methods, our region can continue to differentiate itself in the global market and maintain its reputation as a producer of the world’s highest-quality beef.
The good news? It is not out of reach.
Until we meet again, Happy Beefing!
- The Dedicated Team of Pasture.io, 2023-04-18