The country’s per capita meat consumption dropped 3.1% when compared with 2013, noted Animalia, the Norwegian Meat and Poultry Research Centre. “In total, meat consumption was down 3.1% – from 52.3kg in 2013 to 50.7kg in 2014,” Ellen Hovland, Animalia’s head of nutrition told GlobalMeatNews.
And splitting this into segments, the largest drop was in beef consumption – declining by 7.8% from 13.6kg in 2013 to 12.5kg in 2014, Hovland noted.
Lamb and mutton consumption dropped by 4.4%, from 3.5kg in 2013 to 3.3kg in 2014; and poultry consumption decreased 4.8% from 10.3kg to 9.8kg. Also, per capita game meat consumed decreased from 1.2kg in 2013 to 1.1kg in 2014. The only exception was pork, where per capita consumption increased from 20.3kg to 20.5kg recording a 1% rise, she said.
Consumption has 'fallen'
Svein-Erik Eide, communications chief for Kjøtt- og fjørfebransjens Landsforbund (KLF), Norway’s meat and poultry association, agreed that consumption had fallen, although his organisation cited less steep declines: the drop in per capita beef consumption was only 2.9% as opposed to the 7.8% cited by Animalia. The decline in lamb consumed per person was also less than Animalia’s statistics, at 1.5%, while pork consumption increased by 2.5% – more than estimated by Animalia, he said.
However, both agreed that there was an underlying trend: “The slow reduction in the consumption of red meat has been a trend for nearly a decade,” Hovland said. Earlier declines were experienced, for instance, in 2008-9, when it fell from 52.4kg in 2008 to 50.4kg in 2009 – a drop of 3.8%. The latest drop however was “probably due to several reasons, but an increasing focus on nutrition, health and sustainability is most likely part of the picture”.
Unusually, this is especially true for poultry, with the decline probably due to “a media debate about antibiotic-resistant bacteria”, Hovland said. But here, demand falls maybe temporary, as “recent information indicates that the consumption is on its way up again”.
Meat consumption close to health guidelines
Not so for red meat. “Today the actual consumption of red and processed red meat in Norway is very close to the dietary guidelines that is presented by the national health authorities,” she noted.
Eide added that there would be “more changes in the consumption of meat”. Moreover, Norwegians already had lower meat consumption than other Scandinavian and many European countries, he stressed, noting there were similar falls in demand in other countries.
In Denmark, per capita meat consumption fell between 2010 and 2011. Meanwhile, in Sweden wholesale figures indicated a reduction in production between 2011 and 2012, although there was an increase between 2012 and 2013, Hovland added.
On the plus side, these declines in demand, said Eide, were sufficiently gradual to enable the country’s meat processing sector to stay in business without significant disruption: “The overall decrease is not huge for the meat processing sector,” he said.
And there are bright spots regarding demand: “The sale of pieces of meat – other than beef and fillet, sausages and fillet poultry meat went down in 2014, but processed meats, such as cured meat, spicy, smoked or marinated products including minced meat, are still increasing in volume,” he said. “So are steak and filet sales.”