The Dutch consumed significantly less meat in 2020 than in the previous year.

But that is mainly because the restaurants were closed because of the corona measures and not because of behavioral change, concludes Wageningen University & Research (WUR) after research commissioned by animal welfare organization Wakker Dier.

This does not mean that we have started to think differently about eating meat, says consumption sociologist and senior researcher Hans Dagevos of the WUR against

In 2020, we consumed 75.9 kilograms of meat per capita.

In 2019 this was still 77.8 kilos.

That almost 76 kilos of meat is the so-called carcass weight, so including bones and fat.

We actually ate about 38 kilos of meat, 1 kilo less than a year earlier, per person.

We ate about half of it as cold cuts.

"We have been calculating the figures since 2005 and we have never seen such a large decrease in meat consumption," Dagevos responds to the results of the study.

However, according to the consumption sociologist, this decrease was mainly caused by the fact that the catering industry was partially closed in 2020 due to the corona measures.

'Closing catering industry main cause of decline in meat consumption'

"We now clearly suspect that the partial closure of catering and restaurants during 2020 is the main reason that we are now seeing such a decrease," concludes Dagevos.

"It does not yet have to do with the fact that people have a very different view of eating meat."

"While you might sometimes think that there is a lot of attention for it, we now know that eating a little less meat is better for the planet, our health and animal welfare."

In response to the partial closure of the catering industry, the Dutch bought more meat in the supermarket and at the butcher.

In 2020, these branches sold more than 406 million kilos of meat, about 24 million kilos more than in the previous year.

In 2020, we consumed a total of approximately 1,323 million kilograms of meat.

As in previous years, the Dutch mainly ate pork in 2020.

Not all of these animals spent their lives in mud puddles in the open air.

As in previous years, the Dutch mainly ate pork in 2020.

Not all of these animals spent their lives in mud puddles in the open air.

Photo: ANP

Wakker Dier still happy: 'Could have bought a lot in the supermarket'

Because meat consumption below the line is still lower than in the previous year, Wakker Dier is satisfied. "It is wonderful to see that we can really eat less meat than the Dutch and that this is reflected in the figures," campaign manager Anne Hilhorst responds on behalf of the animal welfare organization to meat consumption in 2020.

"It was the corona year and then we We ate very differently than usual, of course, because we suddenly couldn't eat out anymore," says Hilhorst, who admits that we cannot speak of a trend break in the meat consumption figures that have been stable since 2005. "But of course we also had can buy a lot of meat."

"We didn't do that. We really started eating less meat. That proves to us that it is easier for the Dutch than you think."

See also: A third of the Dutch started eating less meat last year

Impact of meat substitutes on meat consumption is small

Dagevos endorses Wakker Dier's statement that the catering industry can play a role in reducing our meat consumption.

However, the researcher and his team already expected in 2020 that due to the closure of the catering industry, the Dutch would buy more meat in the supermarket and at the butcher.

So that expectation came true.

According to Dagevos, there is also a clear increase in the demand for plant-based meat substitutes.

That is why WUR has devoted attention this year to the question of whether this also affects our meat consumption.

That turns out to be disappointing.

"The increase in the plant-based meat substitutes market is large and important, but has as yet little impact on the meat consumption market," concludes Dagevos.

"That has to do with the fact that, despite the increase, it only concerns about 4 percent of the meat market."

See also: More than half of Dutch households bought vegetarian meat in 2020