Meat on the table is a luxury for an average Uzbek

A market butcher (c)
Meat consumption in Uzbekistan ranks the country at 120th place out of 177 countries, with an annual consumption of 25.8 kilogram of meat per person.

The world ranking was published by The Economist in 2012 from statistics collected by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.

According the FAO's findings the average meat consumption in the World is 38.7 kilograms per annum.

One kilogram of meat for 9 USD and up

Malika puts a small piece of meat in her soup, using only the ground kind as it's cheaper. Her family – seven people – eat about 8-9 kilograms of meat per month.

“In comparison to other food items we buy meat very rarely. It’s very expensive. Frequently I use eggs instead,” Malika Kholmetova, a Tashkent native, told

Most Uzbeks have similar diets. The country’s meat consumption is low but it is difficult to characterize the rest of their diets’ as so-called “consumer basket” statistics are not collected.

Most Uzbeks buy their meat at markets, with a kilogram of beef or muttom costing about 9-10 USD. Those who are better off can afford to buy supermarket meat at about 12-15 USD per kilogram.

That is while the minimum monthly wage is officially set at 100,000 soms, which equals to 38-40 USD. The authorities, however, claim that the average salary in the country is 500 USD.

Public opinion polls have shown that about 50 percent of the country considers itself middle class. While it is difficult to determine the real average earnings in the country they are estimated to be about 200-250 USD.

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Among Uzbekistan’s neighboring countries Kazakhstan eats the most meat. There meat consumption is 67.2 kilogram per year. In Kirgizstan it is 35.2 kilograms per year.

Only Tajikistan has a lower consumption than Uzbekistan at 12.6 kilograms per year. The lowest meat consumption in the world is in India with the average person only eating 3.2 kilograms of meat per year.

The prohibitive cost of meat in Uzbekistan can mostly be explained by conditions for raising livestock in the country.

The production of meat has been steadily declining over the past 50 years.

Only about 5 percent of meat is produced by commercial farmers, the rest is produced by individuals who keep their own livestock. Private citizens feed not only their own families but try to sell extra meat at city markets. There is a clear shortage.

The recommended norm – 60 kg a year

Abajdulla Nasyrov, an 82-year-old scientist, is an expert on the history of meat production and the dietary norms for its consumption.

He believes that in accordance with health recommendations an individual should consume no less than 60 kg of meat a year (about 160 g per day). While the amount currently consumed in Uzbekistan (28 kg a year) amounts to a daily intake of 75 grams.

During the Soviet period Nasyrov imported an American breed of livestock called Santa Gertrude and managed to grow his herd to three thousand head of cattle. He was even awarded an expensive car for his efforts by Sharaf Rashidov. At that time he had a significant well-bred herd and continually improved his stock by performing selective breeding.

European breed provides more meat

In the past ten years Uzbekistan has imported more than 26,000 specially-bred European cows.

“The problem is that these breeds were developed for milder climates and in Uzbekistan the animals get sick and die due to the heat,” the scientist told

Khusan is one of the few farmers who did not shy away from taking out a bank loan in order to buy several specimens of the well-bred livestock, and is now working hard to make his cattle adapt to local weather conditions.

“This European breed provides 10-15 percent more meat than the local one and is not too demanding on its feed,” the farmer told