Australians have always been known to be a nation of meat lovers. Australians spend $378 million a week on meat to cook at home. Today Australians are eating roughly 50% less beef than they were in 1975. There appears to be a trend towards poultry and pork as an increased choice of meat to consume. Let’s look at some of the factors responsible for this trend:
Concern for animal welfare
As there is increased awareness guided by the ease of information sharing today compared to 40 years ago, consumers are more vocal about animal welfare. Numerous research and surveys conducted show that people do care about how cattle is treated and are willing to pay more for meat that is produced in a more humane way, without cruelty and where the animal does not endure an extended period of pain.
Cattle prices have peaked at a staggering $166 in 2015, this is 550% increase from the price of cattle in 1975 where it was $31. This is an average price increase of over 13% per year, much higher that rate of inflation and cost of living.
Misleading labeling and poor regulation
Research has shown that if a sample meat was labelled with humane or ethical, the consumer would associate the meat as having a better taste than a sample without the label, even though the meat was produced identically. Terms such as humane and ethical are interpreted in different ways from one person to the next and are not clearly regulated.
Fighting global warming
Consumers are more aware of climate change and the effects of global warming. More cattle produced mean the requirement for deforestation. Trees store huge amounts of carbon and cleanse the atmosphere of carbon dioxide. As cattle digest, they produce methane which is a greenhouse gas twenty five times more harmful than carbon dioxide. Consumers are therefore choosing to reduce demand in order to fight this problem.