If happiness could be measured, itd be fair to say that in Argentina its up 19% since 2006. Thats how much the countrys consumption of dulce de leche a joyful caramel-like spread has increased over the past five years.
Production hit an all-time record in 2010 as Argentine dulce de leche makers churned out nearly 131,000 tons of the delicious treat. The production peak topped off what had been a great decade for the sweet dairy-based product. Between 2000 and 2010, Argentina produced an average of 115,500 tons of dulce de leche per year, 14.7% more than the yearly average in the 1990s, according to the Argentine consulting firm ABECEB.
While some of Argentinas dulce de leche gets exported, a lot of it does not. In the 1980s, Argentines ate an annual average of 2.1 kilos per capita. During the 90s annual consumption rose to 2.8 kilos of dulce de leche per capita. Since 2006, the average Argentine now chows down 3 kilos of the sticky stuff per year.
These increases are the result of an expansion in the consumption of snacks like alfajores (chocolate sandwich cookies) that contain dulce de leche, explains ABECEB.
The countrys dulce de leche producers can also thank neighboring Chile, which has been their number one foreign customer every year since 2004. In 2010, Chileans bought 3,390 tons of Argentine manjar (as dulce de leche is called in Chile) at a cost of approximately $4.7 million. Overall, Argentine-made manjar accounts for approximately 14% of Chiles total dulce de leche consumption.
The dulce de leche vice is spreading beyond the Southern Cone as well. The United States and Canada account for roughly 12% of Argentinas foreign dulce de leche sales. European Union countries buy 5.3%. Argentina even has customers in Syria and Israel. The two historic enemies dont see eye to eye on much, but do at least share a fondness for the sweet colonial delicacy.
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