Generally speaking, there is a strong correlation between a country’s economy and the components of its populations diet. This is especially prominent when assessing meat consumption across the globe – this trend illustrates that more-affluent countries have historically had a higher consumption of meat than less-affluent countries.

We love to braai in South Africa, but how does the global market we supply to compare?

Estimates of the average meat supply per person per year range from 126 kg in the USA, 80 kg in the UK and 58 kg in the Netherlands to 60 kg in South Africa, 33 kg in Namibia and 5 kg in India. Interestingly, however, there has been a recent stabilizing and even decreasing trend emerging in some more-affluent countries that suggests that preference for meat in diets is declining. For example, the estimated average meat supply per person per year in Germany declined from a high of 99 kg in 1987 to 79 kg in 2020. Similarly, Ireland displayed a decline from 105 kg of estimated average meat supply per person per year to 79 kg in 2020.

Strain on our food budget and supply

The reasons for these stabilizing and declining meat consumption trends in more-affluent countries and subsequent shifts toward more plant-based consumption could be linked to greater concerns by consumers over health-, environmental- and animal welfare-impacts. There are also well-known alternatives to meat available to consumers at lower prices – examples include plant-based proteins such as beans, lentils and nuts. With greater awareness worldwide of the threat of climate change, biodiversity loss and declining freshwater supplies, plant-based diets could remain dominant in less-affluent countries as their economies grow and develop.

Sustainability not just a market requirement, but it is also a consumer-driven belief

Just as there has been noticeable trends in meat consumption globally, there has also been significant trends in the expectations of more-affluent countries towards the environmental footprint of the goods and materials they import. A notable example is the EU where public opinion surveys have been conducted since 1973. Since the first surveys were performed, they have indicated a strong concern over the state of the environment by the EU population – the latest survey, conducted in 2020, indicates 94% of Europeans are in agreement that the protection of the environment is important whilst a third of Europeans believe changing their consumption of goods and materials is the most effective way to overcome environmental challenges.

With this increasing emphasis placed on the sourcing of environmentally sustainable goods, the South African agricultural industry involved in exports has an able, trusted and internationally-recognized partner in SIZA. By signing up for the SIZA Environmental module, producers and packhouses/processors can demonstrate their environmentally sustainable practices, reduce their environmental footprint and meet the expectations of their global buyers.

To start your environmentally sustainable compliance journey, please visit the SIZA website or contact the SIZA office at / 021 852 8184.