The meat remains an important part of the Belgian food culture
86% of Belgians like the taste of meat, according to the survey, and 68% say that meat is strongly ingrained in their diet. Eating meat is a routine for most Belgians and is part of our Belgian food culture. 69% of those surveyed say that meat is nutritious and fits into a healthy diet.
In February 2023, 56% of Belgians said they eat meat (including poultry) at least 4 times a week, compared to 52% in 2018 (based on a similar survey by iVox). The Belgian alternates meat with fish, molluscs and crustaceans, vegetarian meat substitutes or takes a meal without the aforementioned products.
As far as home consumption of fresh meat is concerned, we have precise figures thanks to the consumer panel of GfK Belgium, which monitors the purchases of 6,000 Belgian families on a daily basis on behalf of VLAM. For example, we know that in 2022, Belgians ate 4.2 kg of beef, 5.8 kg of pork, 0.5 kg of veal, 5.7 kg of mixtures of the aforementioned meats and 8.9 kg of poultry at home.
These figures are in line with those of 2019 and are even slightly higher for pork and meat mixtures. The figures for 2020 and 2021 were atypical due to corona (they ate at home much more often then) and should be left aside to discuss the evolution.
What is striking about the home consumption of fresh meat is that, as a result of the high food inflation (+8.4% in 2022), there is an increased trend of meat purchases at the hard discounters Aldi and Lidl (17% volume share). The larger supermarkets remain the most important channel where Belgians buy their fresh meat (50% volume share). The increased retail prices are causing Belgians to reach for the cheaper cuts more often.
Belgians do not only eat at home, but also take meals away from home ( in restaurants, at work or with family). We note that when Belgians ate meat in 2022, they did so 71% of the times at home and 29% of the times elsewhere. These figures correspond to those of 2019, before the corona crisis.
There is a lot of attention for protein diversity on the plate. We have a choice of different options: meat, fish, soft shellfish, legumes and vegetarian meat substitutes. In the longer term, we see a slight shift from pork and beef (and mixtures) to poultry and vegetarian meat substitutes, although the consumption of beef and pork together has held up in recent years. Fish, soft shellfish and crustaceans show a decreasing trend in home consumption.
Not only the home consumption of fresh meat and poultry was higher in 2022 than in 2019. The home consumption of processed meats and ready-to-eat meals with meat and poultry was also 1%, and respectively, 8% higher in 2022 than in 2019,.
57% of Belgians pay attention to the origin when purchasing fresh meat. 94% of them have a preference for domestic meat. They are confident and want to support the domestic economy by choosing Belgian meat. The short transport from producer to consumer is the most important environmental motivation for choosing domestic meat.
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