Inflation brings Dutch meat consumption to “historic” low
Last year, the average Netherlands resident ate 500 grams less meat than the year before. A small decline, but it brings the average consumption to 37.5 kg per person per year - the lowest figures since measurements started in 2005, according to the annual meat consumption research by Wageningen University & Research (WUR) on behalf of Wakker Dier. The researchers believe inflation was behind the lower consumption, Trouw reports.
WUR researcher Hans Dagevos actually expected the high inflation to bring meat consumption down more. Meat became about 17 percent more expensive on average in 2022. “Previous research into consumer behavior shows that when meat becomes about 20 percent more expensive, demand really starts to decline.” Half a kilogram less per person per year - a decrease of only 1 percent - is quite little, he said.
Last year, Netherlands residents mainly ate less chicken and beef. Pork consumption remained about the same. That supports the conclusion that the decline is due to inflation, Dagevos said. “Chicken and beef rose relatively much in price, and pork rose relatively little.” He added that other factors also played a role. “More and more Dutch people call themselves flexitarians and, for example, eat meat one day less a week. That also plays a role.”
To achieve the government’s goal of Netherlands residents getting half their proteins from plant sources by 2030, Dutch people would have to eat 2 kilograms less meat per year in the coming years. That is better for the climate and the environment, and also for people’s health, he stressed. Dutch people currently eat more meat than is considered healthy by the Nutrition Center.
According to Dagevos, achieving that goal is possible if supermarkets stop offering specials on meat and if the government puts more effort into reaching its nutritional ambitions, for example, through a meat tax.
The WUR researcher said that meat consumption has decreased for three years straight but added that the past three years were “crazy” and not necessarily representative of a social trend. “The first two coronavirus years in which people went out less and, therefore, ate less meat. And now a year of high inflation, which sometimes caused people to leave a piece of meat or buy a smaller package.”