Become a Beefatarian: Commission backs campaign promoting ‘balanced diet without deficiencies’

By Flora Southey

- Last updated on GMT

Pic: GettyImages/Cook Shoots Food
Pic: GettyImages/Cook Shoots Food

Related tags Beef

The European Commission is pumping €3.6m into a new campaign designed to ‘strengthen the knowledge and competitiveness’ of the European beef sector.

Brussels has agreed to finance 80% of the €4.5m budget for a new campaign promoting the European beef sector in France, Germany, Belgium, Portugal and Spain.

The ‘Become a Beefatarian’ campaign is supported by the Spanish Interprofessional Organization of Beef (Provacuno) and its Belgian counterpart APAQ-VLAAM.

“Under the name ‘Become a Beefatarian’, the beef sector will value the different characters of this European product compared to that of third countries,” ​Provacuno director Javier Lopez told FoodNavigator.

Such characteristics include the product’s richness in essential nutrients and respect for animal welfare standards, the environment, and sustainability, he added, “without forgetting its link to the Mediterranean diet”.

What is a ‘beefatarian’?

The terms flexitarian, pescatarian, and vegetarian are well known across the industry. But what is a ‘beefatarian’? And what does it mean to identify as one?

“The ‘beefatarian’ concept proposes a movement or current opinion of consumers who want to have a balanced diet and take care of their diet, and that of their family, with the contribution of proteins, vitamins and minerals that beef provides us with,” ​explained Lopez.

A beefatarian, therefore, is a ‘trained and informed’ consumer who is interested in good nutrition and who knows there is ‘nothing better’ than eating ‘high quality products such as beef’, we were told. “Always accompanied by vegetables, and without forgetting the regular practice of physical exercise,” ​Provacuno’s director added.

Further, beefatarian consumers know that beef contributes to sustainable development, enhances the rural environment, and in addition to being ‘very good’, contributes to zero waste – because all of the product is used, we were told.

“Being a beefatarian translates into a free and committed consumer who wants to live with other food trends and never goes against them, because all of them – within a balanced diet – are fabulous options. But, it is true, that [a beefatarian] feels especially proud to eat beef.”

Campaign launches amid plant-based boom

The EU produced 2.7m tons of beef in the first five months of 2020. Eurostat estimates production value to sit at more than €32bn, which is largely concentrated in France (23%), UK (13%), Germany (11%), Ireland (7%), Spain, Italy, and Poland (6% in each country), the Netherlands (4%) and Belgium (3%).

At the same time, plant-based is undeniably on the rise as the number of flexitarians, vegetarians and vegans increase. According to Meticulous Research, the global plant-based market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.9% from 2020 to 2017, to reach $74.2bn seven years from now.

The market analyst firm said Europe is estimated to command the largest of the overall plant-based food market this year, due to high demand for processed foods, more established vegan and vegetarian trends, and large investments into plant-based foods.

FoodNavigator asked Lopez whether the 'Become a Beefatarian' campaign is launching in response to growing demand for flexitarian, vegetarian, and vegan products.

“The producers and maketers of beef want to claim a varied consumption of all the foods of the Mediterranean diet in a context in which vegan or vegetarian trends are growing,” ​he told this publication. “All are free options, but none should go against the others.”

The promotors of the campaign have detected different consumer trends, Lopez continued.

The vegetarian and vegan trend, for example, is often followed by people who understand – ‘from their point of view’ – that a diet free of animals or animal-products is healthier, said the Provacuno director. “But [the beef sector] wants to draw attention to its benefits, within the framework, without deficiencies.”

Another growing food trend centres around health, whereby consumers reduce or eliminate the consumption of certain meats for fear of possible health problems, said Lopez. “But the beef sector wants to value the importance of a rich diet where all the foods of the Mediterranean diet must have a place, in a varied and balanced way.”

And of course, when talking food trends, one cannot overlook sustainability. “The ecological trend [relates to] concern for the environment and sustainable and ecological contributions in any production process,” ​we were told.

“In this context, the beef sector wants to value the beneficial effects that this production activity has for nature (zero waste, pastures as a great carbon sink, soil fertilisation, effects against erosion and desertification, prevention of fires etc.), and the contribution of the sector in the fight against depopulation, as well as for the food sovereignty of a global [growing] population…that demands increasing quantities of quality proteins.”

Sending ‘clear and direct messages’

The campaign will launch across media, social networks, and ‘different professional forums’, explained Provacuno. This includes food trade and hospitality channels, as well as increased focus on international buyers and ‘activity at fairs’.

“Likewise, insertions will be made in magazines and programming in the media to spread the values,” ​said Lopez.

“With this campaign, we are going to be able to tell the reality of our product and sector to the population, reducing their vulnerability to messages that try to marginalize meat consumption.

“We want to send clear and direct messages that generate confidence and reaffirm Europeans in their free decision to consume beef without feeling singled out, and the necessary arguments to proudly defend the consumption of a product of the highest quality, sustainable and respectful to the environment and animal welfare.”

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