Ranking Of Countries That Produce The Most Beef (USDA)

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The United States, Brazil and the European Union accounted for roughly 50% of the world's beef production.
The United States accounted for roughly 20% of the world's beef production in 2020.

The United States is the country producing the most beef in the world by some margin. This is according to forecasts for 2021 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Agriculture Organization. The country is expected to produce 12.6 million tons of beef and veal this year. Second up is Brazil, forecast to produce 10.4 million tons. The country has in the past been heavily criticized for its large-scale cattle industry, which has caused deforestation in the Amazon rainforest and is contributing to extreme wildfire seasons the country, like the one experienced in 2019. Most of the fires in the Amazon were caused by agricultural plot burning, many in connection with illegal land use.

An unexpected country on the list is India in rank 5. The majority of Indians are Hindus, which consider cows holy and refrain from eating them. There are large fines for slaughtering cows in many Indian states and violence in connection with cow smuggling has been picking up recently. India legally slaughters a large number of water buffalo though, which are exported to countries like Vietnam, Egypt, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.

Global meat production has increased rapidly over the past 50 years – as we see, total production has more than quadrupled since 1961. The chart shows global meat production by region, measured in tonnes.

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Regionally, Asia is the largest meat producer, accounting for around 40-45 percent of total meat production. This regional distribution has changed significantly in recent decades. In 1961, Europe and North America were the dominant meat producers, accounting for 42 and 25 percent, respectively. In 1961, Asia produced only 12 percent. By 2013, Europe and North America’s share had fallen to 19 and 15 percent, respectively.

This reduction in production share was despite a large increase in production in absolute terms: Europe’s meat output has approximately doubled over this period, whilst North American output has increased 2.5-fold. Production increases in Asia, however, have been staggering: meat production has increased 15-fold since 1961.

Absolute increases in production in other regions have also been substantial, with output in all regions (with exception to the Caribbean which approximately tripled) growing more than 5-fold over this period.