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25% of the Europeans expect to eat less meat. Still, the willingness to change is clearly present among some consumers. One out of four European respondents expects to eat less meat in five years time, mainly due to associated negative health effects. The combination of concerns on animal food products fuels attention for alternative protein sources, of which many are plant based. Both companies and governments influence market conditions and can accelerate a protein shift.

Europeans love cheese

When it comes to diets, changes don’t happen overnight. For any number of reasons consumers don’t seem inclined to make drastic changes to their diet. Of all European respondents in the ING International Survey, 95% would miss one or more animal food products if they were no longer available to them. Across Europe, our survey found that cheese is valued the most, followed by chicken and milk.

Health most important driver to reduce meat consumption

For consumers who expect to change their diet, health is the main reason but often in combination with one or several other reasons.
Health. Especially older consumers and people in Italy and Spain consider cutting back their meat intake for health reasons.
Animal welfare. An important reason in some countries, for example in Germany more than 30% of respondents (or around 7 million consumers), claim to eat less meat in the future mainly because of animal welfare.
Price. On average the impact of rising prices on demand for meat is higher than for other animal food products. Price is the most important reason for French consumers to cut back on meat.
Environment. Environmental concerns are relatively important to consumers aged 18-35. Out of all respondents 44% considers eating meat and fish to be harmful for the environment. 33% considers eating meat not to be harmful and 22% doesn’t know if it’s harmful or not.
Social environment. Family members or friends who change their consumption pattern or role models who recommend a certain lifestyle can influence others.
Other reasons, such as age and taste. Ageing European populations tend to consume less food and different products. Meat is harder to eat/digest for older consumers. 

Food companies look into alternative proteins

Food companies are challenged to provide everyday alternatives that are able to replace the high value consumers currently place in meat, dairy, fish and eggs. Investment and innovation in meat and dairy substitutes creates mature markets for plant-based products. New generations of products become available and the development pipeline is filled with ‘novel’ protein sources.

Read  the full report: ‘The protein shift: will Europeans change their diet?’

Source: Photo: © Pixabay
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