The discussion about working conditions in slaughterhouses has rekindled the debate about meat prices. While the Greens are demanding a minimum price for meat, discounter Aldi wants to cut meat prices. This is because producer prices for pigs and cattle have dropped sharply in recent weeks. "This is mainly due to the fact that people do not eat outside," says Tim Koch, market analyst for meat industry at the Agrarmarkt Informations-Gesellschaft (AMI): "In particular, the catering industry consumes less meat and the unusual events also lead to oversupply the market." However, this does not matter to consumers: According to the Federal Statistical Office, the Germans paid around 12 percent more for meat and sausage products in April than in the previous year.

This article comes from the "WirtschaftsWoche".

"Retail prices always react with a time delay," explains Koch: "It usually takes a few months to adjust. The fact that meat currently costs as little as before comes from the enormous demand from China." Swine fever raged there last year, causing many animals to die or to be slaughtered. According to Koch, however, prices will soon drop again. This gives hope to bargain hunters, because the Germans at the meat counter are still very much guided by the price.

"People like to eat meat, but most also want the animals to be well," says nutritionist at the NRW consumer center Christiane Kunzel. However, this is hardly visible on the packaging, because meat and sausages in particular are advertised with the most beautiful pictures: "If the best quality and animal welfare are suggested for the cheapest meat, it is difficult for consumers to see what is actually behind it," criticizes Kunzel . Ultimately, people would decide on the price: "If I am in the store, I buy the cheapest because I don’t know where the difference is. And organic is also very expensive."

The meat plays the supporting role

Whether organic or cheap meat: "The barbecue season will definitely boost demand," says meat expert Koch: "But I don't think it can compensate for the lack of demand in the catering trade." In addition to the weakening meat industry, Volker Elm is looking forward to the start of the season. Despite the initial restrictions, the President of the German Barbecue Association expects a good barbecue year: "I believe that barbecuing is just as much or even more in private because people like to meet in the garden because of the contact restrictions and barbecuing is a very good option. "

Dominik Elsesser, Head of Marketing at the world's largest grill manufacturer Weber-Stephen, also confirms this: "It is generally a good barbecue year. Not quite at the level we had forecast before the corona crisis, but we are still satisfied so far." Except in the United States, the company sells the most in Germany - especially at the start of the season between March and July. Here, however, the Germans are not stingy - apparently they prefer to invest in professional tools for preparation than in high-quality grilled food: According to the Cologne Institute for Trade Research, the Germans spent a total of around 1.2 billion euros on barbecues last year.

"Our grills cost between 200 and 4000 euros," says Elsesser: "The most popular are grills that cost between 500 and 1500 euros." Barbecue expert Elm sees the price for a good grill at a similar level: "You have to expect at least 500 to 1000 euros." It seems odd that such sums pay attention to the cent amounts on the cooling shelf. "You need a good grill to process high-quality meat. But the quality is of course extremely important: a grill for 4000 euros and a sausage for 49 cents don't go together," says the expert. For laypeople, however, this does not appear to be in contradiction. Why is so much money spent on a grill but almost nothing on the meat?

"Behind this schizophrenia of consumer behavior there is a very simple motive: the social comparison," explains the business psychologist Ingo Hamm. Expensive kitchen items, such as the grill, are primarily prestige items to present yourself. It is more about the feeling than the actual showing: "If there is a possibility that it can be seen, that is enough," says Hamm. Cooking also plays a subordinate role: "When grilling, meat is an extra on the stage of personal self-expression."