Less meat, more margin

Pressure grows on our sector with ongoing calls for people to eat less meat.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is now calling on the UK government to play a more active role in encouraging the reduction of meat consumption. It is suggesting a range of measures from public campaigns to encourage people to eat less (but better) meat through to pressure on retailers to promote meat-free meal options.

The main difficulty for many in our sector is that they are tied up in the business of volume supply. As such, the idea of eating less meat is anathema to many.

High volumes are necessitated by the low margins many suppliers get from their larger retail customers so an increase in margin, alongside a fall off in volume would not necessarily be the end of the world.

But who is going to convince the retailers and the public to start paying more for their meat?
The WWF is calling on the government to take action, but this is the same government that when food prices started to rise last year, called in the retailers to ask them what they were going to do about rising food price inflation.

The concept of eating less, but better meat and paying a fair price for it should not prove the undoing of the meat industry. It may involve some tricky structural changes but the sector has shown in the past that it is more than capable of adapting to meet new challenges over the years, while continuing to thrive.

And with pressure constantly growing on all of us to face up to the challenges posed by our changing environment, we need to grab the bull by the horns and lead the charge. Let's not wait for governments, quangos and lobbying groups to force it upon us.