Impact of 17 % fall in EU meat consumption by 2030

Monday, 23 December 2019

By Rebecca

No-one can have escaped the headlines about consumer behaviour and views on meat and plant-based foods, with AHDB’s consumer insight team looking into some of the key facts around the rise of plant-based food products. The European Commission has investigated the impact that switching between animal protein and plant protein might have on the prices and production of each.

Currently around 42% of protein consumed in the EU comes from plants, with the remaining 58% coming from animals (meat, fish, eggs and dairy). In the scenario modelled by the European Commission, diets gradually change over the next ten years to a 50/50 ratio. Consumers continue to consume the same number of calories, protein and fats. This would lead to a 17% drop in animal protein consumption.

All the changes mentioned below are compared to the baseline outlook from the European Commission.

The modelling suggests that average farmgate prices would decline by 18%, compared to the baseline forecast. The EU would then become more competitive on the global market, and exports of meat would almost double. Total meat production would decline by 8%. The modelling indicates milk production would also fall by 8%.

While one might expect arable crop prices to rise, the modelling suggests this would not be the case, partly due to a decline in demand for animal feed.

There would also be some environmental impacts. Under the modelled scenario, the EU’s carbon footprint would reduce by 6% (22 million t CO2 eq) in 2030 compared to the baseline. However non-EU countries would also record a decline in greenhouse gas emissions of 33 million tonnes CO2 eq. This is because the EU would be putting more meat and dairy on to the global market, increasing its global market share. In the scenario, it is assumed that meat and dairy demand outside of the EU remains at the baseline forecast. This means production of meat and dairy would relocate from countries where GHG emissions per unit of production are higher, to the EU where they are lower. The EU has a more productive livestock system, which is less carbon intensive than some other countries.

The full report on the impacts is available on page 18 of the EU medium term outlook for Agriculture.


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