The Corona pandemic is about to be a driver for the biggest decline in meat consumption in the world for decades. Per capita meat consumption is expected to decline this year to its lowest level in nine years, and the decline of 3 per cent last year represents the largest decline since 2000, according to United Nations data.
On the other hand, analysts around the world are expecting declines not only in relation to per capita demand, but also for overall demand in all regions.
This is a very big shift for a commercial sector that relies on steady growth, Bloomberg News said in a special report. It is noted that this transformation takes place in every major market, including the United States, where it is expected that per capita consumption of meat will not return to the levels before the Corona pandemic at least until after 2025.
There are a group of factors that contribute to this change. The economic impact of the outbreak of the Corona virus means a decrease in consumer spending. The closure of restaurants has led to a decrease in the demand for meat, because those who frequent restaurants often increase the amount of meat they eat in comparison to what they eat in their homes.
In China, which accounts for a quarter of the world’s meat consumption, there is growing distrust of animal products after the government suggested that there was a link between the imported protein and the outbreak in Beijing.
The stoppage in production, as happened in cases of virus outbreaks in some factories working in the field of animal products, which caused a crisis in this sector in the United States, also resulted in supply problems, which led to a decrease in eating meat.
On the other hand, climate activists have for years advocated a reduction in meat consumption. According to some criteria, agriculture represents more than the transport sector a source of greenhouse gas emissions, due in part to the production of livestock. Meat and dairy products alone are responsible for about 18 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions from humans.
What remains unknown is the degree to which the virus’s transformation will continue. And if consumers are used to eating less meat under pandemic conditions, could this lead to a new era for nutritional patterns in the world?
Bloomberg notes that there are signs of structural change, as millions of people now eat more plant protein because of environmental concerns.
On the other hand, the increase in corona infection cases in slaughterhouses and animal food processing plants – from the United States to Brazil and Germany – clearly shows what this sector causes to its workers, who are doing dangerous work for low pay and small earnings.
However, it is still too early to know whether the new public concern with worker conditions will affect demand for livestock. At the same time, consumers are becoming more accustomed to cooking in their homes, and this habit can continue, especially as the food service sector activity that has been paralyzed by the closure is expected to shrink.
According to Aaron and Associates, a consultancy, it is possible that some 2.2 million restaurants around the world could close. Altin Kalu, an analyst at Steiner Consulting Group, said that our lack of food services is “a big shock to demand, and it will take a long time to recover from it.”
Before the Corona pandemic, 50 percent of meat was consumed outside the home in the United States, according to Boston Consulting Group. “If the restaurants look structurally different in the future, and the occasional eating outside of the home changes, then it can be said that there will be a continued decrease in meat consumption,” said Dicker Walker, the group’s agricultural activities expert. He added: “People will continue to consume the same amount of calories, but they will do so at home, where the proportion of meat is less.”
“Bloomberg” concluded its report by saying that there is still an opportunity to increase total global consumption this year. This is because the world’s population can grow faster than meat production. However, the low per capita consumption represents a turning point for the meat sector.