Consumers are looking for premiumisation and healthification in their meat products
Consumers are reshaping the food industry by setting new trends in meat consumption all over the world. Still, differences are observed between the West and the East, as the food market in regions such as Asia and the Middle East is moving forward to and premiumisation and growing concerns about the environment and health issues are creating changes in the dietary behaviour for the Western consumer as well.
Veganism and vegetarianism are already established in the main markets, while the new concept of flexitarianism is gaining ground through consumers that don’t want to ditch the meat from their menu but are willing to reduce their intake of animal protein.
Looking for premium products
Food and, in particular, meat consumption in developed Asia-Pacific countries is evolving mainly towards premiumisation and healthification - characteristics of an affluent and ageing consumer base. In South Korea, consumers’ spending levels will shift from meat towards fruit and vegetables. Traditionally one of the healthiest markets in the world, Japanese diets are undergoing something of a transformation that is a bit different to the ones seen in Korea and Taiwan, with a shift toward food groups more popular in Western diets. Spending on fish, rice and noodles are on the decline, while spending on pork, poultry and cheese are projected to see large increases over the next five years. On the contrary to other developed Asian markets, dietary patterns in Australia are set to remain largely static, according to the latest Fitch report on Asian markets.
Flexitarianism is the new trend
At the same time, the quest for a healthy diet is pushing Western consumers to set for a diversified menu or even to go vegan or vegetarian. There are also environmental issues that are driving the people to reduce their meat intake as the latest studies conducted in several Western markets are showing.
Dietary habits in France are trending to flexitarianism as the consumers are seeking pleasure in the food they eat (53%) and good health (49%), according to a study delivered this year by INTERBEV and IPSOS.
According to the study, French people are interested in the quality of the food they buy (83%), to their impact on health (77%), the origin of these products (76%), and a balanced diet (76%). Meat (beef, veal, lamb or pork) is consumed at least 3 times a week, poultry is part of their menu at least 2 times a week, eggs and fish are served 2 times a week as well, while fruit and vegetables are consumed on daily bases.
Many of the respondents are convinced that their current diet meets their requirements: to be really happy (82%), to have all the essential nutrients (77%), to preserve their health and well-being (76%) and respect the environment (58%).
96% of the respondents are declaring themselves omnivores by not avoiding meat or fish in their plates. Even if their dietary habits are similar to what nutritionist are calling "flexitarianism", 65% of them have not heard that word before but they still pay attention to the quality products (84%), the sanitary controls carried out from the places of production up to sales outlets (74%), as well as to animal welfare (63%). Another fact revealed by the study is that 85% of the French consumers cook their meals themselves with unprocessed products.
Meat consumption is slowing down in Europe
Several other markets in the EU, such as Germany, Spain, and Sweden are also reporting a decrease in meat consumption in the last five years.
In Spain, for example, meat consumption has dropped by 4 kilos between 2013 and 2018, from 50.6 kg to 46.6 kg, and the trend is expected to continue. Nevertheless, healthy isn’t one of the attributes that Spaniards are looking for in their food, considering the fact that 80% of the meat consumed in households is red or processed, the least recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
Meat consumption has dropped in Sweden for the second year in a row, according to statistics released by the Swedish Board of Agriculture. On average, Sweden's meat consumption decreased by 2.2 kg per person in 2018, which led to a drop of 6% in the last two years.
According to the board, the change is due partly to prevailing food trends, but also to Swedes' increasing awareness of sustainability issues. "Everyone knows today that meat production contributes more to greenhouse gases than vegetable production," mentioned Asa Lannhard-Oberg, an agricultural policy analyst at the Swedish Board of Agriculture. Swedes have increased their meat intake in the last three decades to reach a peak of 87.7 kg per person in 2016. Since then, meat consumption in Sweden has started to decrease steadily at about 2 kilograms per person.