Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Decline in meat eating claimed

A quarter of the British public say they have cut back on the amount of meat they eat over the past year, new research for the Eating Better alliance revealed today. Only 2% say they are eating more.

The YouGov survey of the British public (1) commissioned by Eating Better found around one in three (34%) say they are willing to consider eating less meat, with a quarter (25%) saying they have already cut back on the amount of meat they eat over the last year. Ready meals, and processed meats are most likely to be off the menu. Eating Better says this suggests the public remain wary, following the horsemeat scandal, of cheaper meats that are likely to be less healthy, of unknown origin and poorer quality.

Concern for animal welfare topped the reasons for considering eating less meat, ahead of saving money, food quality/safety and health. The survey found a large increase in awareness of the significant environmental impacts of producing and eating meat from just one in seven people (14%) in a YouGov survey for Friends of the Earth in 2007 to nearly one in three (31%) in 2013.

The most dramatic change has been in young people (aged 18-24) where there has been a five fold increase in awareness from just 8% in 2007 to 40% today. Young people were nearly 3 times more likely to say they don’t eat any meat at all – compared to the survey’s average – with one in six (17%) of young people saying they don’t eat any meat. Despite rising food prices, around half those surveyed said they would be willing to pay more for ‘better’ meat if it tastes better, is healthier, produced to higher animal welfare standards or provides better financial returns to farmers. Willingness to pay more was not restricted to higher (ABC1) social grade groups.

What the survey does not make clear is by how much people have cut back on the meat they eat. However, it is not good news for the hard pressed livestock industry.