Global meat eating is decreasing at a record rate since at least two decades as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, with this year’s per-capita consumption on its way to the biggest drop in nine years.
According to data from the United Nations, the global per-capita meat consumption is expected to fall to 42.4 kg this year – a 3% drop in comparison to 2019 and the largest annual decline at least since 2000. This is due in part to the closure of restaurants amid the coronavirus lockdowns, which has led people to cook more at home and opt for less meat than they would if they were eating out.
“If restaurants structurally look different in the future, and the number of out-of-home eating occasions is permanently altered, then I think it’s fair to say there may be less meat consumption” going forward, says agribusiness expert Decker Walker of Boston Consulting Group. “People are still going to consume the same amount of calories, but they will do it at home, where the meat percentage is lower.”
The economic issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic is another major influence that has resulted in less meat consumption, as consumers have become more careful with their finances when buying food. This reduction of per-capita meat consumption is happening worldwide, including in the United States where the numbers are not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels for at least five years.