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For the first time ever, the majority of German consumers are limiting their meat intake, a recent study finds. The research also shows that many in Germany are now open to the concept of consuming cell-based meats, though strong tradition and culture is still an obstacle to the shift towards non-meat diets in France.
The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Foods, finds that there is a growing acceptance of non-meat diets in both Germany and France, but that the trend is far more established amongst German consumers. Conducted by a research group from the University of Bath, Université Bourgogne Franche-Comté and market firm Ipsos in Berlin, the study involved a survey of 1,000 in each country to examine consumers’ current and intended dietary habits.
According to the analysis, only 45% of German respondents now identify themselves as full meat-eaters, and 31% are actively following flexitarian or meat-reducing diets. It marks the first time ever for German consumers who are full meat-eaters to be in the minority, a significant turnaround for Europe’s biggest pork producing country known for its sausage-loving culinary tradition.
Meat consumption was found to be far more common in France, where 69% identified as full meat-eaters and only 26% saying they intended to follow a flexitarian diet. Analysts say that the difference could be explained through the “lens of culture and tradition”, as well as the role that big meat lobbying groups continue to play in France to block the use of meat terms on the labelling of vegetable-based products.
We can expect to see an increase in interest in novel proteins including cultured meat. First, because we know that increasing familiarity with the concept tends to increase comfort with the idea of eating it. Also, this data was collected before the outbreak of Covid-19, a zoonotic disease which has caused many people to re-examine the role of animals in our food system.Nathalie Rolland, Study Co-Author, AgriSup, Université Bourgogne Franche-Comté
The survey also questioned participants on their thoughts about cell-cultured meat, and found that 58% of Germans would be willing to try it and 56% open to purchasing it themselves. This is compared to 44% and 37% in France, which despite being a lower figure, still suggests that acceptance of novel cultivated proteins is rising in the country.
Of the reasons that consumers are most swayed by when it comes to the benefits of cultivated protein, the team said that there is evidence that a focus on antibiotic resistance and food safety is more persuasive than animal welfare or environmental concerns.
“We can expect to see an increase in interest in novel proteins including cultured meat. First, because we know that increasing familiarity with the concept tends to increase comfort with the idea of eating it. Also, this data was collected before the outbreak of Covid-19, a zoonotic disease which has caused many people to re-examine the role of animals in our food system,” said study co-author Nathalie Rolland, from AgriSup, Université Bourgogne Franche-Comté.
The normality of meat-eaters being the majority is reversing as more people move towards plant-based diets. The development of better and better alternatives, including cultured meat, only makes this transition easier.Christopher Bryant, Study Lead Author, University of Bath
Lead author of the study, Christopher Bryant from the University of Bath, believes that the findings from the paper highlights the changing social acceptance and normality of non-meat diets in Europe.
“We know that the social normality of meat consumption plays a large role in justifying it…As eating animals becomes less normal, we will likely see a rise in demand for alternatives like plant-based and cultured meat,” Bryant explains.
“The normality of meat-eaters being the majority is reversing as more people move towards plant-based diets. The development of better and better alternatives, including cultured meat, only makes this transition easier.”
Earlier in July, Green Queen reported that German consumers are now opting for plant-based meat substitutes more than ever before amid mounting concerns over repeated coronavirus outbreaks recorded at slaughterhouses in the country. According to market data, the number of vegetarians in the country has doubled while nearly a third of all households are now actively reducing meat consumption, in line with similar trends observed all around the world.
Overall, the United Nations FAO estimates that this global pattern will trigger the biggest drop in meat intake seen in decades.
Lead image courtesy of Ikea.