Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has a lot on his plate: a sluggish vaccination effort has prevented the country from reining in the pandemic, Congress is investigating his coronavirus misdeeds, and economic conditions continue to suffer — with food prices skyrocketing and unemployment running high.
But there’s something else on the president’s menu. Over Mothers’ Day weekend, he was treated to a celebratory barbecue with Wagyu beef — which in Brazil costs some BRL 1,800 (USD 341) a kilo, almost twice the national minimum wage. A rich scene, perhaps, for a president elected under the banner of ending privileges.
Earlier this year, Business Insider explained exactly why Wagyu beef is so expensive. “The term wagyu literally translates to Japanese cow. And it generally refers to four main breeds. These cows were bred for physical endurance, giving them more intramuscular fat cells. The fat is distributed more evenly throughout their muscle, which is why wagyu beef looks pink and tastes so tender. And the Japanese government tightly regulates wagyu production to protect the value and quality of the meat.”
And while Mr. Bolsonaro tucks into his prime steaks, the average Brazilian family is swapping out beef entirely, turning to chicken and eggs as an affordable source of protein.
Meat prices jumped 35 percent over the past 12 months, according to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics. Meanwhile, chicken and egg consumption rose 6.5 and 9.1 percent, respectively. According to data from supermarket chain Mundial, the ratio of poultry-to-beef sales has gone from 2:1 to 5:1.
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