Most consumers in Western Europe are in favour of an “intelligent meat tax”, according to a new survey. The results suggest broad public support for political leaders to take action on carbon-intensive foods by increasing levies on meat, while reducing taxes on plant-based alternatives, fruits and vegetables, in line with recent expert recommendations on measures to slash emissions from the food system.
Results from a new survey conducted by Utrecht-based market research firm DVJ Insights has revealed that the majority of consumers in Western Europe back the proposal of a meat tax. Respondents were asked to share their views on a proposal to increase meat prices and reduce costs of vegetables and fruits as part of the E.U. “Farm to Fork” strategy under the Green Deal to make the bloc’s food system more sustainable.
It showed that 70% of consumers support a 0% VAT rate on vegetables and fruits, and a higher VAT on meat products. This figure rises to 88% when including those who said they are neutral about such a policy.
The poll was run in October 2020 and involved more than 1,550 across France, Germany and the Netherlands, with consumers in these countries representing nearly 40% of the E.U. population. It was commissioned by the TAPP Coalition, a nonprofit focusing on fair pricing and taxes on consumer food products, and animal welfare charity Four Paws.
While consumers in all three countries were in majority support of a meat levy, there were some regional differences. For instance, while 80% of German consumers are willing to pay a tax of at least 10 eurocents per 100-gram of meat as long as the revenues are used to compensate farmers for improved animal welfare, higher labour wages and carbon reduction measures, support in France is at 67% and 63% for Dutch shoppers.
The consumer survey shows a political reality: a majority of West European consumers expect their political leaders to tax meat products to use revenues to reduce VAT taxes on vegetables, fruits and meat alternatives and pay farmers to increase animal welfare and green standards.Jeroom Remmers, Director, TAPP Coalition
German consumers have also shown greater willingness for even more stringent levies, with some 53% willing to pay at least 25 eurocents per 100-gram of meat, compared to 39% and 32% for French and Dutch respondents respectively.
These findings are aligned with a recent study showing a growing acceptance of non-meat diets in both Germany and France, but a much more established trend amongst German consumers, with people identifying as “full meat eaters” now a minority in the country for the first time.
Commenting on the latest survey results, Jeroom Remmers, director of the TAPP Coalition said: “The consumer survey shows a political reality: a majority of West European consumers expect their political leaders to tax meat products to use revenues to reduce VAT taxes on vegetables, fruits and meat alternatives and pay farmers to increase animal welfare and green standards.”
Public opinion on meat levies echoes the calls of experts and scientists, with top health professionals in the U.K. urging the introduction of a levy on high-emissions foods such as meat and dairy. It followed warnings made in a new scientific paper, which showed that without drastic changes to our global food system, the climate goals outlined in the Paris agreement will remain “out of reach” even if fossil fuels were to end immediately.
Other experts have suggested additional measures such as putting smoking-style graphic imagery on high-carbon products that are damaging to the climate, such as petrol pumps, plane tickets, energy bills and carbon-intensive foods, as well as imposing regulations on the advertising industry to stop encouraging the overconsumption of high-carbon products.
Lead image courtesy of Aleksandar Karanov / Shutterstock.