Animal protein can be part of an eco-friendly diet, consumers believe

By Oliver Morrison contact

- Last updated on GMT

©iStock/RossHelen
©iStock/RossHelen

Related tags: Sustainability, Meat consumption, Dairy

Consumers believe meat, fish and eggs can be an important part of a healthy and environmentally responsible diet, according to global research.

US agricultural commodities company Cargill questioned over 4,000 people aged between 18 and 64 in the US, Brazil, the Netherlands and Vietnam for its Feed4Thought survey.

More than two-thirds of respondents said they intend to maintain or increase their consumption of animal protein in the next year. Four-fifths of participants expressed interest in plant-based or alternative sources of protein.

“We’re pleased consumers see animal protein as an important part of a healthy diet​,” said Chuck Warta, president of Cargill’s premix and nutrition business. “Dietary guidance consistently emphasises the benefits of adequate protein intake from a variety of sources. Our aim is to help our livestock, poultry and aquaculture customers meet the growing global demand for protein in the most healthy, productive and sustainable way possible.”

Consumers 'don't want to tun their back on meat products'

While concerns are growing among consumers about how to feed the world sustainably, Cargill’s research suggests they do not want to turn their back on animal-based products.

For example, Cargill’s survey found that 93% of respondents said they care about our ability to feed the world sustainably, with 84% saying that it affects what they buy.

But most respondents said animal protein could play a role in sustainability: 80% of survey participants said it can be part of an environmentally responsible regimen, while 93% said it can play an important role in a healthy diet. 

What’s more, its food manufacturers that bear most responsibility for ensuring food production is sustainable, according to the survey. Governments came in second (25%) and then consumers via the foods we eat (20%).  

Can you be a meat eater and eco-friendly?

"Access to poultry meat and eggs can rapidly improve people’s diets and have a major impact on their lives,”​ said Pierre Ferrari, president and CEO of Heifer International. 

Cargill recently partnered with Heifer to launch Hatching Hope​, an initiative aimed at improving the nutrition and livelihoods of 100 million people by 2030, by training and opening markets for subsistence poultry farmers and providing nutrition education for their communities. 

“We’re investing in smart, resourceful women farmers, working with them to improve their products, access new markets and build sustainable businesses that generate living incomes,”​ said Ferrari. 

Respondents globally were fairly evenly split between wanting livestock, poultry and fish farmers to focus on reducing antibiotics, using feed with sustainable ingredients, reducing pollutants and “doing more with less”​ (e.g. improving feed efficiency).

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