Consumers looking to reduce meat intake

NEW YORK — Ahead of the unofficial start of the 2021 grilling season, a new survey says a large percentage of Americans are seeking to reduce meat consumption.

The survey, conducted for Bloomberg News by Morning Consult, said 35% of Americans are “making a conscious effort to eat less meat.” The percentages were highest among non-white Americans with Black Americans exceeding the 35% average of those saying they are seeking to eat less meat and more than 40% of Hispanics looking to cut back.

The survey of 2,200 adults was conducted May 17-19.

The large percentage of Americans looking to eat less meat flies in the face of trends in recent years, when per capita meat consumption, including of beef, has been on the rise.

Between 2014 and 2019, per capita retail meat and poultry availability rose more than 10%, to 278.5 lbs from 250.3 lbs, according to the Economic Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture.

Whether this preference to cut back will also translate into lower bun demand or even an actual reduction in meat consumption remains to be seen, Bloomberg said. The news service said consumers may be opting for meatless alternatives, including meat analogs in some cases.

At the same time, far more respondents said they intended to replace meat intake with beans and vegetables than plant-based meats or soy products such as tofu.

Additionally, Bloomberg cited Glynn Tonsor, PhD, an agricultural economist at Kansas State University, who noted what people say and do often differs. Asked whether they will consume less meat, many will say “yes” even if they don’t plan to cut back.

“They think that’s the right answer, so they say ‘yes, I’m going to cut back,” Dr. Tonsor said. “Often we do not see that matched with actual consumption data.”

The Bloomberg survey showed health reasons were the top reason consumers gave for intending to cut back on meat, following by saving money and environmental reasons.

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