The statistics were revealed in a report by trend-tracking organisation Euromonitor International, which also revealed the prevalence of meat-free meals is at an all-time high.
It ascribes a mere 14 per cent rise in meat sales over the past six years to increased awareness of the adverse health effects of a high-meat diet, as well as cost and concern for the impact industrial meat production is having on the environment.
Importantly, it underlines the global impact celebrity-endorsed campaigns such as Meat Free Monday and US sister organisation Meatless Monday have had in changing dietary habits and bringing the meat-reducing message to the masses. MFM founder Paul McCartney made news around the world when he addressed the European Parliament on the issue back in 2009.
According to the Euromonitor report: “A gradually growing population of vegetarians, semi-vegetarians, meat-reducers and ‘vegivores’ is set to consume more meat-free foods than ever before, and become increasingly adventurous in their tastes … [W]hile most of the global population remains staunchly carnivorous, the divide is expected to widen.”
It observes that consumers have been buying less red meat because of a number of recent health scares and out of concern for the damage the livestock industry is wreaking in countries such as Brazil, where rainforest is being cleared to make way for pastureland and feed crops such as soya.
Eating too much red and processed meat has been linked to cancer in a number of recent scientific reports.
More people are becoming aware of the need to eat healthily and governments too are seeking to improve public health by encouraging healthy eating, including reducing the amount of meat their citizens eat.
“Government drives, including those to reduce sodium intake, reduce consumption of saturated fats and sugars, and increase intake of fruits, vegetables and pulses, have all impacted meat consumption,” says the report.
More awareness and availability of plant-based food is also a factor in the drop in meat sales, according to Euromonitor.