For the first time, the majority of Germans are limiting their meat consumption and many are open to the concept of eating cultured meat, according to a new study.
The research, published in the journal food by an international research team from the University of Bath (United Kingdom), Bourgogne Franche-Comté University (France) and Ipsos (Germany), finds that meatless diets are increasingly accepted in Germany and France – although a strong tradition and culture still dominate attitudes in France in particular.
For their survey, the researchers interviewed 1,000 people in each country by asking them a series of questions about their current and planned eating habits, as well as their thoughts on cultured meat – that is, the meat produced. without raising or slaughtering animals. This new method of meat production reflects the biological process of building muscle but does so under controlled conditions.
Their analysis found that only 45% of Germans surveyed identified themselves as full meat eaters, and 31% were now actively following a flexitarian or reduced meat diet. Meat consumption was more common in France, where 69% identified themselves as full meat eaters and 26% more following a flexitarian diet.
The study also reveals promising markets for cultured meat in both countries. While the majority of consumers in France and Germany had still not heard of cultured meat, 44% of French and 58% of Germans surveyed said they would be ready to try it, with 37% of French consumers and 56% of Germans willing to buy themselves.
The publication highlights Germany as one of the most vegetarian nations in Europe, noting that per capita meat consumption has been declining for several decades. Now, for the first time, evidence suggests that German consumers who do not deliberately limit their meat consumption are in the minority. These patterns are reflected in France, where nearly half of meat consumers intend to reduce their animal consumption in the years to come, although attitudes are more difficult to change.
The researchers say the social implications of these findings could be profound. Lead author Christopher Bryant, from the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath, explained: “We know that the social normality of meat consumption plays an important role in justifying it. We are now approaching a tipping point where the majority of people are deciding that, primarily for ethical and environmental reasons, we need to move away from eating animals. As animal consumption becomes less normal, we will likely see an increase in demand for alternatives such as plant and cultured meat. “
Strikingly, they find that acceptance of cultured meat is higher among agricultural and meat workers in France and Germany – two countries considered to be the strongest agricultural powers in the European Union. The team behind the study says this indicates that farmers may see cultured meat as a way to meet the demand for affordable mass meat, allowing them to move away from intensive industrial production systems. and to return to more traditional systems, which are more harmonious with the environment and the animals. well-being outcomes.
In the United States and Europe, some of the world’s largest meat producers have already supported and partnered with cultured meat innovators such as Cargill, Tyson Foods, PHW, the largest German poultry breeder and processor, and M-Industry, which is part of the Swiss Migros group. .
The team found evidence that messages in favor of meat in favor of culture, focused on antibiotic resistance and food safety, were more compelling than those focused on animal welfare or the environment. Consumers have also indicated that they would be more likely to consume cultured meat that is not genetically modified.
Study author Nathalie Rolland said: “We can expect to see increased interest in new proteins, including cultured meat. First, because we know that increasing familiarity with the concept tends to increase comfort with the idea of eating it. In addition, this data was collected before the outbreak of COVID-19, a zoonotic disease that has caused many people to reexamine the role of animals in our food system. “
Jens Tuider, International Director of ProVeg International, said: “Antimicrobial resistance is a serious public health problem, mainly caused by the widespread use of antibiotics in conventional animal agriculture.
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