In Summary

  • The average Kenyan eats two kg of meat less than they did at independence.
  • Kenyans eat the most meat in East Africa. The average Kenyan eats almost three times as much meat as the average Rwandese
  • The average South African ate four times as much meat a year than the average Kenyan

Ever wondered whether we're the biggest meat eaters in Africa? Considered if we are eating less or more meat? Chewed over what type of meat Kenyans prefer?

As we enter peak meat eating season in Kenya, Nation Newsplex brings you the meaty numbers.

A live 14kg goat that sold for Sh4,500 in April was going for Sh7,000 by  December 20 and was likely to increase further before the peak season ends.

Meat is slowly disappearing from our plates with Kenyans eating less meat today than they did at independence, a look at food data dating back to independence reveals. 

In 1963, Kenyans ate about 16kilograms of meat per person a year, equivalent 78 kilocalories per person a day but consumption had dropped to about 14kg per person a year or 50 kilocalories per person a day by 2013, reveals a Newsplex review of statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nation.

This means that the average Kenyan eats two kg of meat less a year than they did at independence.

The US Food and Drug Administration recommends that adults consume 50g of protein a day. About 85g of meat contains 21g of protein. To meet the guideline Kenya would have to increase average meat consumption by more than four times. But

another way to make up for the deficit is to find major alternative plant-based sources of protein.

Still, Kenyans eat the most meat in East Africa. The average Kenyan eats almost three times as much meat as the average Rwandese, according to the most recent data available.   In 2011, the year data is available for most countries, the average Rwandese consumed 6kg of meat per year compared to the average Kenyan who ate 16kg.

Uganda’s average meat consumption was 13kg, Tanzania’s 10kg and Nigeria’s 9kg.  The average South African ate four times as much meat a year than the average Kenyan while a Ghanian consumed 1kg extra.

Beef is Kenya's preferred meat, making up two-thirds of all consumed meat even as the demand of other meats is picking up. It is followed mutton and goat meat at 13 per cent, Poultry (three per cent) and pig (two per cent). Other meats account for 15 per cent of all consumed meat.

Pork eaten per person in Kenya has almost doubled in the last five decades. In contrast demand for poultry, mutton and goat per person decreased by half and beef by two per cent.

“If you don’t make your profit during the holiday season that begins in December and ends around January 3 then you are in trouble,” says Mr Daniel Ngiroiyia, a goat seller in Kiserian.

He says that by the first week of December this year both the price of goat and quantity sold by traders in Kiserian and Kisamis areas in Kajiado, where many Nairobians get their meat supply, had more than doubled.  A live 14kg goat that sold for Sh4,500 in April was going for Sh7,000 by  December 20 and was likely to increase further before the peak season ends.

“In the first quarter of the year business is at a standstill. It picks up in April, when I usually sell about 60 goats a week. In December I sell 150 goats over the same period,” says Ngiroiyia. Other goat traders in Kisearian are experiencing a similar pick up in business. For instance, market days in Kiserian are on Monday and Thursday but during the holiday season every day is a market day. “This is the time that farmers who are looking for school fees bring their animals to the market,” he says.

“On average about 800 goats are sold in Kiserian on a given market day but during this season it spikes to about 2,000.”

Ngiroiya adds that since the goats sold in Kiserian are bought directly from farmers the prices are lower than when people move further away from Nairobi to eat outs like Olepolos.

But for the butcheries within Estates there is hardly any change. “So far business is lower than even last month,” says Mr Kenneth Okumu, who owns a butchery and an eatery in the middle class Imara Daima Estate in Nairobi.

Both Okumu and Ngiroiya explain that this is because families who usually buy about 1kg of meat opt to buy live goats, chicken or other animals from the markets rather than butcheries.

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