As people become aware of the impact of meat and dairy on their health and the planet, more consumers are eating plant-based.

Back in July, Forbes reporters covered the United Nations findings that in 2020 per capita meat consumption was set to fall to its lowest point in nine years.

The global drop in consumption of 3% represents the biggest annual decline since the turn of the century. This reduction has resulted from a combination of reasons including the loss of over 100 million pigs to African swine fever, Covid-19 market disruptions and shifting consumer behaviour.

However, analysis of trends also suggests that meat consumption may be on the decline in the longer term.

The factors influencing this trajectory are global and varied. Increased awareness of the health impact of a meat-heavy diet is one factor, with governments around the world offering according to advice to their citizens.

In China, the country’s health ministry has released dietary guidelines that encourage the nation’s 1.3 billion people to reduce their meat consumption by 50% between now and 2030. If achieved, these guidelines would lead to an annual reduction in China’s meat consumption greater than all meat currently consumed a year in the US.

Intergovernmental organisations are also calling for reduced meat consumption for another reason –  its environmental impact. A major report on land use and climate change, prepared by 107 scientists for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stresses that, if we are to meet the Paris Agreement climate targets, we must rapidly change course on land use and farming practices.

These changes require consumers to move to diets that produce much lower GHG emissions, a change that necessitates a significant reduction in meat and dairy consumption. While such requests are being made, the mechanisms for required changes in consumer behaviour are yet unclear.

While we have not seen it yet, such strong pleas from international scientists may see governments adopt policy changes which in some way take into account the mounting environmental and health costs of animal agriculture.

Germany is one of the countries to debate the introduction of a meat tax, one of the simplest market mechanisms to attempt to reduce demand for meat products. In 2019, the country’s Agriculture Minister Barbara Otte-Kinast demanded the increase of the tax on meat from the reduced rate of 7% to the normal rate of 19%. While the average German eats around 60kg of meat a year, roughly double the amount recommended as healthy by the German Nutrition Society DGE, the EU average is higher still at 71kg per capita and US figure north of 100kg per capita.

Original source: https://www.investmentweek.co.uk

 

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