Almost half of European consumers have reduced their meat consumption in the past year and just under 40 percent plan to consume less meat in the next six months, according to a survey conducted by the international vegetarian organisation ProVeg.
The study, titled ‘What consumers want: a European survey of consumer attitudes towards plant-based food’, shows a shift in consumption from animal-based foods to plant-based foods in several European countries.
“European consumers’ appetite for plant-based foods is here to stay, as shown by the number of Europeans who say they want to eat more plant-based alternatives to dairy and meat in the future,” said Vinciane Patelou, Director of ENSA-European Plant-based Foods Association.
More than 7,500 consumers were surveyed in ten European countries: Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom.
Around 46 percent of respondents reported they’ve already reduced their meat consumption in the past year, and the trend is similar when it comes to dairy, with about 30 percent of consumers saying they’d like to reduce their dairy consumption.
“Clearly, there is a long-term consumer trend of including vegan protein in the regular diet,” said Marcus Keitzer, a board member of PHW Group, a major German meat supplier.
“One thing we do know for sure: neither meat products alone nor currently available alternative protein options are going to be able to sustainably meet the protein requirements of future generations on their own,” Keitzer said.
“A holistic protein-platform strategy is needed, which includes ecologically optimized meat production as well as a visionary approach in the field of alternative proteins.”
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The study found not only a declining interest in animal products from the surveyed European consumers, but also an accompanying increase of interest in vegetable products.
Almost 30 percent of surveyed respondents said they would like to consume considerably more vegetable products, with taste and health being the main motivations for these “flexitarians” (note: someone who consumes animal-based products only now and then) to buy vegetable products, followed by freshness, no additives and lower prices.
Still, there are a number of barriers when it comes to plant-based foods. Almost half of flexitarians feel that the vegetable offerings in supermarkets and restaurants are insufficient, and 50 percent consider the vegetable options too expensive.
While the survey was done in cooperation with the University of Ghent, among others, Belgium was not included in the group of countries studied.
Other research from VUB shows that around ten percent of Flemish people are flexitarian.