Red meat consumption and demand declining in Canada: report

Cuts of beef are seen at a supermarket in Montreal on June 26, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Meat consumption and demand are declining in Canada due to lower household incomes, soaring meat prices and the struggling restaurant industry, according to a new report.

“As incomes fall or prices rise… we expect meat consumption to decline as households cut back on more expensive meals,” the report from Farm Credit Canada (FCC) explained. “The recurring lockdowns and foodservice closures also curtailed meat consumption.”

FCC is a crown corporation that provides financial services and loans to farms to support the sector. In a January report on economic trends in agriculture and food, FCC said ongoing inflation due to the COVID-19 pandemic underlies many of the costs and concerns currently facing Canadian farmers.

“Animal proteins weren’t immune to the inflationary pressures seen elsewhere,” the report added.

Using data from Statistics Canada, the report showed that demand for beef began declining steadily after it peaked in late 2020. Since 2021, Canadians appear to be compensating by purchasing more chicken.

“Chicken demand rebounded in 2021 in response to widespread foodservice re-openings and perhaps higher red meat prices inducing substitution away from red meats,” the report said.

In addition to higher meat prices, the report also showed how the COVID-19 pandemic has led to rising shipping costs and labour shortages, while widespread drought in 2021 negatively impacted the production of economically vital crops like wheat, canola and barley.

“Last year wasn’t the year of recovery and respite we thought was imminent after the horror story that was 2020,” the report said. “Throughout 2022, we’ll be watching closely to see if the demand indices return to their pre-pandemic level and resume their growth.”

Source: CTV, January 15, 2022.

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