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Consumers return to meat-eating during pandemic

burgers on a bbq

THE PROPORTION of shoppers either limiting their consumption of, or not eating meat altogether, dropped back in 2020.

Research from analyst Mintel found that 41% of consumers said they reduced their meat intake in 2020, compared with 51% in 2019.

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And the sale of processed meat products was up 18% during last year as shoppers sought out familiar foods.

Breakfast and barbeque favourites like sausages, bacon and burgers all benefitted from an increase in cooking from scratch as people at home found more time to cook.

Cooked meats like ham also benefitted as homeworkers prepared lunches themselves, rather than eating out.

Temporary blip

But Mintel adds that the return to meat eating is likely to be a temporary blip, pointing to consumers’ awareness of the environmental impact of eating meat.

In 2018, just a quarter felt eating less meat was better for the environment, but this shot up to 42% in 2020.

Edward Bergen, an analyst at Mintel, said: “Prior to the coronavirus outbreak the meat reduction trend was gaining considerable momentum.

Disruption

“The huge disruption, uncertainty and stress caused by COVID-19 have caused a relaxation around some health and ethics-driven habits among many people.

“It is not surprising that meat reduction has taken a temporary back seat, particularly given the increased desirability of familiar comfort food and meat is seen to really deliver here.

“The long hot summer gave a boost to sales of sausages and burgers through an increase in opportunities for barbecues.

“But the setback for the flexitarian movement is likely to be very short-lived.

“As the shadow of the pandemic fades, its impact in the mid and long-term are only going to make the benefits consumers associate with eating less meat seem even more relevant and important.”