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March 15, 2022

Have we reached the point of peak meat?

Forget peak oil, what if we’ve reached peak meat?

The volume of meat consumed in the United States hit a high point in 2007, and has been falling each year since, according to the Earth Policy Institute, an environmental think tank in Washington.

This year, the total is forecast to be about six per cent below that 2007 peak. If trends continue, the amount of meat eaten per person will be about 10 per cent less than it was a decade ago -- and we're not just talking about hamburgers.

Intake of poultry first surpassed beef in the mid-1990s and then surged ahead, only recently beginning to falter.

The institute speculates that the overall trend “could signal the end of meat’s mealtime dominance” and points out that the decline of meat has been even more dramatic when expressed in terms of per capita consumption.

Citing concerns about health, the environment, and the ethics of industrial meat production as some reasons behind this trend, a weak economy and higher corn prices are likely the bigger drivers, the Institute maintains.

Higher feed costs lead to more expensive meat, crimping demand in return -– but probably only in this neck of the woods. While demand may be dropping on this continent, expanding economies like China and Brazil citizens will likely demand more meat and dairy products, not less.

Where does meat figure in your diet? If you're eating less than you once did, is that an economic or an environmental decision?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...