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Trend reversal in 2023? - The Germans and the Meat

2023-12-07T14:48:30.307Z

Highlights: Meat production in Germany fell by a good eight percent in 2022 compared to the previous year. Germans ate 2022 kilograms of meat per capita in 52 - less than at any time since calculations began in 1989. The proportion of households in which a conscious attempt is made to reduce meat consumption increased from 37 percent to more than 47.5 percent. But the share of expenditure on meat, including fish, in consumer goods for daily needs has fallen only slightly in recent years (minus 3.9 percent since 2018)



Status: 07.12.2023, 15:25 PM

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For many, meat is still an indispensable part of the diet. © Jan Woitas/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa

Meat consumption in Germany has been declining for years, but the industry association is optimistic. A study shows how eating habits have changed.

Bonn - For representatives of large slaughterhouse operators, the matter is clear: At the balance sheet of the German Meat Industry Association (VDF) on Thursday, the lobbyists proclaimed the trend reversal and painted an optimistic picture. Sentences such as "The Germans are eating meat again", "The dregs have been reached" and "The image of meat is recovering" were uttered. What's with that? Is meat really playing a greater role in consumers' diets again?

There is no shortage of statistics and figures on the subject. Recently, the food meat has lost considerable importance on the plates. According to the Federal Statistical Office, meat production fell by a good eight percent in 2022 compared to the previous year, and by a further almost six percent in the first half of 2023 alone.

According to the Federal Information Centre for Agriculture (BLZ), Germans ate 2022 kilograms of meat per capita in 52 - less than at any time since calculations began in 1989. According to the 2023 Nutrition Report of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), the proportion of people who eat meat and sausage every day has fallen from 25 to 20 percent this year.

Meat consumption: reduced and more conscious

The most up-to-date empirical study can be found in the sustainability study recently published by the Rewe Group, the GfK Consumer Panel and the German Sustainability Award Foundation. Study author Robert Kecskes says, "Home meat consumption is declining in all households."

Between 2018 and 2023, the proportion of households in which a conscious attempt is made to reduce meat consumption increased from 37 percent to more than 47.5 percent. At the same time, however, the share of expenditure on meat, including fish, in consumer goods for daily needs has fallen only slightly in recent years (minus 3.9 percent since 2018), and in some age groups it is almost stable. When it comes to Germans and their relationship with meat, market researcher Kecskes sees some anomalies.

Firstly, although an above-average number of older generations want to reduce their meat consumption, spending on meat is still higher than among younger people. From Kecskes' point of view, this is also due to the fact that older people are "meat socialized" and are used to larger quantities of meat.

Second, the motivation to eat less meat varies greatly. Older people are more likely to justify this with health aspects, while younger people are more likely to justify this with animal welfare and climate.

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Thirdly, according to the study, the amount of meat consumed by financially strong households and younger people in particular is declining, but not the share of expenditure - because people often switch to more expensive and higher-quality meat. The so-called Generation Z - which is predominantly associated with people born between the mid-1990s and 2010 - is increasingly abstaining from meat.

Fourth, Kecskes sees a "cultural shift" in meat. He expects the trend - more reduced and deliberate - to expand as soon as the financial situation eases. In terms of consumption, an increasing demand for sustainable products can be observed in all age groups. The slowdown in 2022/2023 is due to economic circumstances.

The schnitzel and "politically correct answers"

The meat industry is trying to see at least a partial success in this. The negative trend of recent years - the decline in meat consumption and quantities purchased - has at least weakened considerably. For example, meat consumption in the private sector fell by only 2023.0 percent in 7 compared to the previous year, and in 2022 it was still 8.1 percent. The figures also show that meat still plays an important role in the lives of many people, and for more than 60 percent it is even indispensable as a food.

According to its own statements, the industry is not very impressed by the fact that more and more people want to turn away from meat. When asked about this, VDF board member Hubert Kelliger says: "Consumers have learned to give politically correct answers: "I eat less schnitzel and save the world". It has nothing to do with buying behavior." However, very few VDF representatives believe in a return to the old production volumes. One expects a stabilization, not a return to the slaughter figures of five years ago, it said.

What certainly does not dampen the mood in the meat industry is the view of the competition. After the meat substitute market has risen rapidly in recent years, the development is now stagnating. The share of expenditure and the quantities per household are even declining slightly. Why? For Kecskes, the products have "arrived at the end of a hype in a niche".

Organic and animal husbandry levels made meat consumption interesting again for many "flexitarians" - this group largely avoids meat and meat products, but not always. Meat alternatives would have to "shed their flair of the vegan substitute product". If they don't convey a positive attitude to life, they will become boring for consumers. Dpa

Source: merkur

All news articles on 2023-12-07

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