Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.
We Will Live
As We Will Eat
Anticipating the future power of
sustainability amid our shifting food culture
A Futures Proje...
2  We Will Live As We Will Eat
CONTENTS
Introduction...................................... 3
Executive summary...............
Introduction
Our aim is to deliver a unique study that
will be digestible to the general public
and the mainstream media, ...
Executive Summary
Public opinion is softening in favour of meatlessness and there is early
evidence that generalised (not ...
The headlines from our ICM poll,
conducted in February 2016, were as
follows:
The public remains pessimistic
about the env...
The stereotypical link between meat and
masculinity appears to be less relevant
to younger generations. As Figure 1
highli...
It is clear that in Britain today the
consumption of meat is generating
new sets of responses and attitudes
among the publ...
The New Spectrum Of Meat Sensitivities
to environmental and health issues,
suggesting that they will continue
to offer som...
We envisage that this Central
Assumption will be defined
by these outcomes over the
next decade:
•	 Overall meat consumpti...
A trend by our definition is an empirically
observable movement or tendency within
prevailing socio-economic conditions,
w...
In the past, there were many different
and competing versions of what was
really good-for-you. Populist news
stories still...
“Household consumption has been
very slow to recover by historical
standards. Consumption per head of
non-durables (things...
is more that I personally could do to help
protect the environment’.
90% of people support the idea of ‘food
companies bei...
14  We Will Live As We Will Eat
As we discussed earlier in this report,
it is striking how reduced meat eating
is not prom...
Scientific realities
“The farm animal production sector is
the single largest human user of land,
contributing to soil deg...
14 Gray’s Inn Rd
London
WC1X 8HN
hello@dissident.biz
www.dissident.biz
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

We Will Live As We Will Eat

1,516 views

Published on

An analysis of the culture of sustainability and its impact on the food that we eat in the UK in 2025. Just how eco-sensitive and specifically how meat free will the national dinner plate be within the decade to come?

Published in: Food
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

We Will Live As We Will Eat

  1. 1. We Will Live As We Will Eat Anticipating the future power of sustainability amid our shifting food culture A Futures Project for World Meat Free Day May 2016 — By James Murphy & Martin Thomas
  2. 2. 2  We Will Live As We Will Eat CONTENTS Introduction...................................... 3 Executive summary......................... 4 Expert interviews............................. 4 The state of the nation................... 5 The new spectrum of meat sensitivities.............................7 Our eating culture in 2025............. 9 The trends that matter................. 10 An accelerated future....................14 Literature review.............................15 Foreword The issue of the planet’s long-term wellbeing never leaves our news headlines for long. We in the UK and across the Western world are collectively living in ways that are provably unsustainable. As a result, the pressure is rising to encourage individuals and families to adopt more directly the basic principles of sustainability in what they choose to eat and to create an ever more focused debate about better eating options. All parties to World Meat Free Day know that we need to intensify our efforts to communicate the values of sustainable living and specifically to persuade more people to think about the role of meat, both in relation to their own health and that of the planet. And so, welcome to We Will Live As We Will Eat. This is a completely new study, commissioned on behalf of the World Meat Free Day to explore our contemporary food culture in Britain and to anticipate the food culture we might expect (indeed hope) to see in a decade from now. The authors are consultants from Dissident, which specialises in analysing the play of socio-economic trends inside markets and sectors. They were given the freedom to take a fresh, independent look at the whole question of sustainability as a discrete concern in the minds of consumer citizens. To deliver this they conducted a major opinion research study, analysed the available scholarship on the topic and talked to leading experts on sustainable eating. We hope that their analysis and forecasts of future attitudes to food and sustainability in the UK over the next decade make for interesting reading and will help catalyse further debate. Sue Dibb, Coordinator at Eating Better On behalf of World Meat Free Day 2016 This year's World Meat Free Day will take place on 13th June 2016 www.worldmeatfreeday.com Though the views and forecasts contained herein are those of the authors, we would like to acknowledge the support of the following organisations in helping to produce this report: Forum for the Future, Food Ethics Council Carbon Trust Compassion in World Farming Eating Better WWF Newcastle University Woodside Training Deutsches Institut für Lebensmitteltechnik WRAP All research statistics quoted in this report relate to an ICM Unlimited poll (a representative sample of UK adults, 16+) conducted in February 2016, unless otherwise stated. © World Meat Free Day About the authors James Murphy is Dissident’s Head of Insight. He is one of the UK’s most widely respected social trends analyst and forecasters. He was formerly Editorial Director at the Future Foundation (the global consumer trends analysis and forecasting company), where his role was to alert senior clients to imminent shifts in the socio-economic environment and advise them on how to exploit these trends for sustainable corporate advantage. He was co-author of The Big Lie (or interpreting your global customer’s inner life for profit) – which won the EMM Marketing Book of the Year Award in 2014 – and is a regular commentator on business trends in the national media. His other professional roles have included associate director at the Henley Centre for Forecasting and director of analysis for First & 42nd, the management consultancy. Martin Thomas has held senior planning roles with some of the world’s leading marketing services agencies. He is the author of two widely acclaimed business books: Crowdsurfing and Loose. Much of his work in recent years has focused on the disruptive force and strategic application of social media, a subject on which he has become a highly regarded writer and commentator. He is course leader on digital and social media for the Institute of Directors, non-executive director of Commonwealth Games Council for England, a former non-executive director of Sport England, an advisor to the Courtauld and the Future Foundation and a Fellow of the RSA.
  3. 3. Introduction Our aim is to deliver a unique study that will be digestible to the general public and the mainstream media, respectful of and supported by expert opinion across the food sector and persuasive enough to jolt manufacturers, distributors, advertisers, policy-makers and indeed individual households towards ever more decisive pro-sustainability actions. We also want to help stimulate such a quality of innovation and entrepreneurship across the food sector that our national eating habits progressively reflect much greater sensitivity to the planet’s wellbeing. Finally, we hope to energise the national conversation around the imperative of a radically altered, sustainability-focused food culture for the UK by 2025. Our approach has combined quantitative and qualitative research, plus a review of the prevailing scholarship about the role of foods and food practices within personal health, life enjoyment and threats to the planet. We have also framed our thinking within the socio-political context for the food/ sustainability agenda over the next few years; a number of themes have to be listed here: • COP21 (the 2015 Paris global climate deal): its emphasis on food security rather than eco-sustainability; • The impact of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals on political agendas and policies: • An emerging clamour (not just in the UK) for new taxes on ‘bad’ food; • Falling global food commodity prices in most sectors; • The resilient incidence of obesity in the UK and the non-emergence of a national strategy to deal with it; • Weak macro-economic prospects in Europe and low real income growth in the UK; • A deepening expert consensus on food policy priorities; • The unabated appetite for cuisine diversity among the UK public; • A possibly emerging assumption that global warming is being brought under control. • A growing understanding (within some quarters) of the impact of intensive livestock grazing on the environment. In shaping this report, we have undertaken a series of in-depth interviews with many of the UK’s leading experts on sustainable eating, including leading NGOs (see page 4). We have also engaged a representative sample of the British public – through an ICM poll of 2,000 UK residents over the age of 16 – to analyse primary perceptions of optimised eating behaviour, eco-priorities, threats to wellbeing (however defined), parenting norms, social opprobriums (the actions of others that are to be deprecated) and the specific cultural positioning of meat. Our forecasts have been framed around a Central Assumption: the most likely condition of food-behaviours and food dynamics in 2025 resulting from already detectable socio-economic and cultural trends (see pages 10-13). We have also offered two variants to this assumption: alternatives robust enough to warrant special strategic thinking and preparation. This report attempts to envision the culture of sustainability and its impact on the food that we eat in the UK in 2025. Just how eco-sensitive, how supportive of personal health and specifically how meat free will the national dinner-plate be within the decade to come? “ ” We hope to energise the national conversation around the imperative of a radically altered, sustainability-focused food culture for the UK by 2025. 3  We Will Live As We Will Eat
  4. 4. Executive Summary Public opinion is softening in favour of meatlessness and there is early evidence that generalised (not exclusively vegetarian) anti-meat or meat-moderation instincts and impulses could be entering social mores. However, there is no suggestion yet of a seriously accelerated behavioural change towards increased sustainability in relation to our food choices. Our analysis shows that there is plenty of room for optimism when it comes to the emergence of a more sustainable food culture in the UK. The prevailing socio-economic and cultural trends – plus the results of a recent ICM poll commissioned as part of this project – point in the general direction of reduced meat consumption and falling social approval for meat. A significant proportion of the population will be actively moderating their meat consumption over the next decade and beyond. This is primarily driven by health concerns, though often rationalised in the context of environmental and animal welfare sensitivities. If current levels of pro-sustainability agitation are maintained, then the journey to a more attractive sustainability culture should be smooth, albeit slower than desired by the environmentalist community. There is only a limited sense that environmental sensitivity (damaged by weak income growth) is an acute national concern and is engaging majorities in sustained and well-informed personal activism. Substantial minorities already agree that meat is ‘bad for you’ and claim to recognise the environmental harms stemming from meat production. But eating less meat is yet to become a salient priority for personal action in response to the perceived threat of global warming or the public’s general concern for the planet. In response to many propositions about food, wellbeing and environmentalism, the UK takes a view that is reasonably consistent across the segments (age, class etc.). However, women are plainly more sensitised than men as are, on occasions, young people. London, as we have discovered, is often to be regarded as a different place from much of the rest of the UK; opinions can be quite markedly different there, more open to a more progressive food culture. Generally, the burden of responsibility to take measures, enact change, make the world a healthier, cleaner place is thought by the British public to fall much more emphatically on supermarkets, food celebrities and regulators, than on individuals or households. The core themes that emerged from our discussions with leading experts in food and sustainability were as follows: The need for realism: sustainability may be no more than a ‘second tier’ motivation for consumer citizens. The definition of sustainability can seem unhelpfully vague and elusive. It is not a single issue. The evidence is that eating habits can be changed. And so, what is available in stores etc, is a pivotal issue. The gap between expressed opinion and actual behaviour remains large: consumers may talk eco but not act eco. One should not depend on regulators/ policy makers to provide aggressively pro sustainability leadership. Best wisdom lies in creatively mixing messages: combining planetary welfare with self-interest (price, taste, convenience). The inevitability of a gradualist (but steady) progress towards a meat free culture should be accepted, although the pace of change needs to be accelerated. Not much can be expected of labelling schemes as a general agent of positive change. Expert Interviews Stridently lecturing the consumer citizen is not effective. Only soft and targeted encouragement is likely to work. 4  We Will Live As We Will Eat
  5. 5. The headlines from our ICM poll, conducted in February 2016, were as follows: The public remains pessimistic about the environment 56% of UK consumers agree that ‘by 2025, global warming will be as significant a threat to human beings as it is today’. Only 19% agree that ‘by 2025, the air we breathe here in the UK will be cleaner than it is today’. Only 12% agree that ‘by 2025, there will be enough food for the world’s populations: hunger in the poorer parts of Africa will be a thing of the past’. Green instincts are still prominent. There is a strong desire among the public (especially young people) to take personal responsibility for the environment. A majority (54%) of adults agree that ‘I believe that there is more that I personally could do to help protect the environment’, rising to 61% of 16-24s. We also have high expectations of government, food industry and supermarkets 52% of adults (rising to 62% of 16-24 year olds) wish that ‘my supermarket would offer food for my family which has been produced in ways which respect the natural world much more than is currently the case’. Around 50% are now emphatic that food companies should be committed to showing just ‘how much energy it costs to produce their products’. There remains, however, a knowledge gap in relation to sustainable eating practices… Only 32% of people ‘generally/usually know which foods do less damage to the environment by the way they are produced’. … with education (primarily in schools) seen by the public as the primary solution A strong majority (with almost nobody disagreeing) are firm that ‘Children in schools should be taught how they can personally help reduce global warming by their own actions’ and that ‘Children should be taught to know which foods do damage, by the way they are produced, to the environment’. A preference for what has been locally produced – the environmental benefits of which are perhaps not as substantial as people think – has gained traction with the wider public. 68% of adults agree that ‘it is better for the environment if the food we all eat is locally produced and sold’. Meat is becoming less popular among a significant proportion of the population. 40% agree that ‘These days I eat less meat than I used to do’ – rising to 45% of women. 33% are ‘actively choosing to eat less meat’ (39% of women). 28% of 18-24 year olds and 27% of all women agree that ‘by 2025, my diet will probably be mostly meat-free’. An encouraging 37% of males under-24 accept that “eating red meat is bad for you” – compared to only 14% of men between 65-74. We can already detect the shifting sands of public opinion: moderation is becoming mainstream. A majority (52%) of under-35s agree that ‘eating a full English breakfast is bad for you’. A third of adults (32%) believe that ‘by 2025 good parents will generally not give hamburgers or sausages to their children’. The State Of The Nation Meat is becoming less popular among a significant proportion of the population. We can already detect the shifting sands of public opinion. “ ” 33% of adults are 'actively choosing to eat less meat'. 5  We Will Live As We Will Eat
  6. 6. The stereotypical link between meat and masculinity appears to be less relevant to younger generations. As Figure 1 highlights, the number of 16-19 year olds agreeing that ‘it is natural for young men to prefer steak to quiche’ is less than a third of the figure for people aged 75 and over. The environmental harms linked to meat production are widely accepted 40% of UK consumers agree that ‘it would be better for the wellbeing of our countryside if adults in Britain were generally to eat less meat’ – rising to 44% among 16-24s. 36% now agree that ‘a meat-free diet or one where we eat less meat is better for the environment’ – rising to 48% of 16-19 year olds and 40% of 16-24s. However, despite claiming to understand the impact of meat production on the environment, it is striking how reduced meat eating is not prominent in the current inventory of eco-actions favoured by consumer-citizens (Figure 2). This response varies little across age groups, social classes and regions. In comparison, one can feel here the relative success over the years of those campaigns relating to water- saving, plastic bags, positive recycling, food miles, etc. The burden of responsibility for protecting the environment is seen to fall on supermarkets and the government, rather than individuals (Figure 3). The State Of The Nation Despite a widespread recognition that meat production has damaging ecological consequences, few people believe that personally eating less meat will make a difference 6  We Will Live As We Will Eat 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 75+65-7455-6445-5435-4425-3416-2416-18 Figure 1: 'It is natural for young men to prefer steak to quiche' (% who agree) 31% 34% 44% 51% 55% 46% 58% 69% Figure 3: Who or what could do more to protect the environment? 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% GovernmentSupermarketsI personally 54% 72% 72% Figure2:'Whichofthefollowingdoyouthinkarethebestactionsthatanindividualsuch asyourselfcantaketohelpreduceglobalwarmingandhelpprotecttheenvironment?' 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% Buy organicEat fewer meat dishes Use less detergent Take fewer flights abroad Buy electric car Buy locally produced food Use eco setting on washing machine /dish washer Turn off tap when brushing teeth Use car less No plastic bagsRecycle 40% 38% 30% 25% 21% 18% 15% 15% 12% 9% Rises to 15% among 16-19s 6%
  7. 7. It is clear that in Britain today the consumption of meat is generating new sets of responses and attitudes among the public. It is no longer simply a question of being vegetarian, vegan or flexitarian. To capture the mix of meat- responsive behaviours we have to talk about a widening range of meat-related sensitivities. We have identified a hardcore, meat- hostile tribe, that is defined by virtue of having endorsed (in our opinion research exercise) each statement relating to the perceived negative impacts of meat production and consumption, both to individual wellbeing and the eco-system. Our hardcore tend on balance: e to be female / married (not necessarily with children); e to be spread across the age groups (except the over-65s); e to be predominantly middle-class; e to be spread across the professions / ranks; e to be more common in the South East / London; e to regard meat as both bad for the environment and for people; e to want to know more about the foods they buy at the supermarket and the threats they pose; e to be likely to say that they know what sustainability means. Around this meat-hostile community, other milder (but still significant) attitude clusters or tribes can be detected in the answers we received to our range of questions about meat, wellbeing and the environment. We have observed that many people are already what we might call meat- occasionals, choosing not to eat meat products on a daily or consistent basis. From our research we can also detect a meat-enlightened or meat-moderating group, driven primarily by health concerns but also by a deepening awareness of the perceived threats that meat production and consumption is posing to the world at large. For this tribe, ordering steak is perhaps no longer a politically neutral act; it may indeed seem positively counter-progressive if ordered too frequently, even worthy of a passing ‘tut-tut’ in polite society. Under what conditions can we expect our tribes to grow in size and morph in character over the next decade? In our view, a rise in meat-related sensitivity and active meat-moderation will require continuous, consensual and consistent messages from food experts, NGOs and governments. In addition, such a trend will be influenced directly by: • Stable economic growth and rising incomes: there is a close correlation between environmental sensitivity and levels of personal prosperity; • Ever greater applause from friends and peers for the social heroism they embody, i.e. people declaring that they are 'meat-moderating' will be seen as super-responsible individuals, who by their actions reduce threats both to their personal health (and the costs to healthcare systems) and to the planet’s wellbeing: • An ever-tighter link between a meatless or less-meat attitude and personal appeal and attractiveness. In this way, the moderation of meat consumption (as is increasingly the case with alcohol consumption) will become promoted and accepted as an index of charm and wisdom. With this thought in mind, we note the following: 23% of women ‘wish that my spouse/ partner would eat less processed meat’, rising to more than a third (37%) of women aged 16-19. Almost 1 in 5 (18%) of 18-24 year olds ‘would never go on a date with someone who eats meat for every meal’. More than a quarter (29%) of 16-19 year olds (31% of 16-19 year old men) say ‘I find female celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow attractive, because they have taken a stand against meat-eating’. Over a quarter (26%) of 16-19 year old women say ‘I find male celebrities such as Brad Pitt attractive, because they have taken a stand against meat-eating’. • A constant flow of (meat-free) product innovation, strong enough to ensure that they never get bored at mealtimes (to the point of recidivism towards meat as regular mealtime feature); • More parents to be specifically recruited and mobilised to the cause. On a number of issues highlighted in our research, parents appear to be at least slightly more sensitive The New Spectrum Of Meat Sensitivities Our research indicates that a hardcore 15% of the population is already decidedly sensitive to the perceived negative impacts of meat on all counts, whilst up to 40% of the population claims to be reducing or moderating their meat consumption to some extent. 7  We Will Live As We Will Eat
  8. 8. The New Spectrum Of Meat Sensitivities to environmental and health issues, suggesting that they will continue to offer something of a propaganda target over the years ahead. For example, 45% of parents of children under 15 agreed that 'It would be better for the well- being of our countryside if adults in Britain were generally to eat less meat' compared to 40% for the population as a whole. • Supermarkets to spot and respond to the opportunity to meet the needs of this growing meat-moderating audience; 52% of adults (rising to 62% of 16-24 year olds) wish that ‘my supermarket would offer food for my family which has been produced in ways which respect the natural world much more than is currently the case’. • For the idea of meat-moderation to be popularised to the point of cultural mainstreaming: TV food programmes becoming ever more eco; admired celebrities openly eschewing meat as a staple. 85% support the idea of food programmes on TV which ‘show us how to cook in ways which respect the environment’ – rising to 93% of 18-24s. “ ” 85% support the idea of food programmes on TV which ‘show us how to cook in ways which respect the environment’. 8  We Will Live As We Will Eat
  9. 9. We envisage that this Central Assumption will be defined by these outcomes over the next decade: • Overall meat consumption is in steady long-term decline, across all demographics and geographic regions. • People actively moderating their meat consumption are common, much more so than vegetarians were in the middle of the previous decade and it has become normal for public figures to declare that they are choosing to eat less meat. • The cumulative effect of so many eat-wisely/eat-sustainably campaigns has been the principal cause of the above. Progressive environmental deterioration has also focused minds. • The social order promotes and admires moderation in all human appetites. Super-personalised health regimes, underpinned by new technology such as self-diagnostic tracking devices, reinforce this. • Many people who are actively moderating their meat consumption are trading-up to better quality meat for special meal occasions, favouring the premium or artisan sector over industrialised meat producers. • Technological innovation within the food industry has raced forward. Many new forms of meat substitute or alternative protein are now available. • The sausage is the new cigarette. • MasterChef 2025 allows contestants to prepare only two meat recipes per series. We have identified two variants to this central (gradualist) assumption the first of which could accelerate the adoption of sustainable eating behaviour and the second of which could impede even the most gradual progress: 1. Disasters and Deteriorations: obliging all to eat sustainably • In 2025, the whole culture of national cooking-eating has been jolted out of its traditional habits. • Severe competition for global food stocks is driving many families to re-assess food budgets and meal choices. • Kids in school are given a brutally accurate assessment of just what is heating the planet, causing floods and landslides, producing noxious gases. Endangered cows are now sponsored by progressive citizens in the way the Iberian Lynx once was. • All families have become super eco- sensitive: meat is rarely consumed, even by non-vegetarians. • Moral outrage fuels much virulent public protest against fast-food. • The global shortage of animal protein drives prices higher, making it difficult for families to afford. Meat aisles occupy significantly less space in-store. 2. Three Meals Forward, Four Meals Back • In 2025, the food culture has not changed much. • The UK economy has not been growing by more than 2% per annum since 2021. People in the service industries still work about 35 hours per week. • Treats are a psycho-social necessity. Money is tight and meat is cheap. Hamburgers are popular with time- pressured families. A majority of Britons still enjoy the emblematic Sunday Roast. • Consumers just cannot carry so many eat-this/but-do-not-eat-that messages in their heads. • The impact of COP21 has been to reduce greenhouse gases. This is a commonly held perception. Shoppers think that the green war is largely over. There is little for them to do. Our Eating Culture In 2025 Our core forecast or Central Assumption is that the next decade will witness an Accrued Incremental Improvement in our National Eating Culture. 9  We Will Live As We Will Eat
  10. 10. A trend by our definition is an empirically observable movement or tendency within prevailing socio-economic conditions, which results in a (potentially sustainable) alteration of expectation, decision or behaviour on the part of a significant number of citizens and/or institutions. Not all trends will create a confluence, collectively flowing in the same direction. Some will mutually overlap or contradict. Some will be intensified or reduced in impact by the actions of social and commercial agents. The trends that will shape public attitudes to sustainability and specifically meat consumption over the next ten years and beyond are as follows: 1. The Irresistibility of Moderation 2. The End of Evasion 3. Responsibility Overload 4. The Treat Imperative 5. The Soft Squeeze 6. Me-Me Living 7. Everyday Diversity 8. Guerrilla Citizenry 1. The Irresistibility of moderation: sobriety is the new cool This is a mega-trend, energised by the interaction of public policy and profound behavioural and attitudinal changes. Millions will be influenced. The social order in the UK is already heavy with invitations-to-behave. The costs (personal and institutional) of excess within lifestyles choices are well established. There are so many unavoidable and specific injunctions against smoking, over-eating, drinking alcohol, failing to take exercise. Our recent research has produced the following league-table in response to the question: what is it that is ‘bad for you?’ (Figure 4). Note the figures for the 16-24 demographic: which we might choose to label as 'Generation Moderation'. We can see in all of this a ratchet rather than a pendulum: there is no social motor driving any switchback to hedonistic indulgence. The presumption in favour of moderation is culturally as well as politically endorsed. Being with a drunk is not amusing. Obese people are pitied. To resist indulgence is to keep one’s looks. The realities of economic growth and income distribution mean that splurge- spending is not going to be favoured by millions (specially the younger segments) in the years ahead. Almost half (48%) of adults agree that ‘It would be better for the well-being of our countryside if adults in Britain were generally to eat less food’. A majority (51% and 56% respectively) agrees that they are ‘actively trying to cut sugar from their diet and consume less saturated fat’. 40% of UK adults agree that ‘in the future unhealthy foods (containing a lot of sugar/salt/fat) should be heavily taxed by the Government’. 2. The End of Evasion This trend will have a widespread impact. Scientific realities (about imprudent eating amid ecological fragility) will become popularised, inescapable and known to every parent. The Trends That Matter We have identified eight socio-economic and cultural trends that will shape public attitudes to sustainability and specifically meat consumption (both positively and negatively) over the next ten years and beyond. “ ” 40% of Britons agree that ‘unhealthy foods should be heavily taxed in the future’. 10  We Will Live As We Will Eat Figure 4: What is bad for you? (Agree with statement) 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 Eating white meatDrinking coffeeEating red meatEating chocolateEating a full English breakfast 48% 30% 26% 24% 8% 14% 30% 33% 47% 52% All adults 16-24s
  11. 11. In the past, there were many different and competing versions of what was really good-for-you. Populist news stories still fuel this phenomenon. This led to a casual exploitability- of-uncertainty of the part of the consumer-citizen. One might think that red wine was good for the heart, the full breakfast a benign start to the day, steak dinners necessary for growing boys. Elements of a proof for such ideas, however inadequate, were always readily available. This is beginning to change. The science of human wellbeing is becoming ever more precise, as are techniques for measuring the impact of individual lifestyle choices. It has become impossible for consumer- citizens to evade scrutiny of how/what they eat/drink and increasingly difficult for them to claim (even to themselves) that a particular choice is a healthy or socially responsible one when it is not. A majority of consumers agree that ‘there is more I could personally do to help protect the environment.’ 92% support the idea that ‘children in schools should be taught how they can personally help reduce global warming by their own actions’ and 91% that ‘children should be taught to know which foods do damage, by the way that they are produced, to the environment’. 3. Responsibility Overload This trend has the potential to weaken the impact of environmental calls to action. The consumer has his/her limits and only the sharpest invitations to behaviour change – based on a consensus of messages from government, NGOs and media – will cut through. How-to-live-the-good-life can become a very complex and demanding proposition. Millions are expected to be super-responsible parents, neighbours, drivers, shoppers, recyclers, voters, holiday-makers, citizens. However much governments and companies do or deliver, significant responsibilities for making the world a better place fall to individuals and families. One can assume that not only will these not diminish they will indeed swell over time. In order to cope many will use their own filtering mechanisms, thus isolating their personal priorities for action. A form of responsibility-economics will be true for even the most enthusiastically pro- sustainability individual. One cannot do everything. An escalation of creative interactivity is predictable: retailers, regulators and consumers will share and transfer responsibility-burdens. For the consumer alone will find it ever tougher to be the perfect citizen without collaboration. Only 32% of people ‘generally/usually know which foods do less damage to the environment by the way they are produced’. Nearly half of all Brits ‘wish they had more time, as they reflect on the wellbeing of the planet, to study how the foods they buy are produced’. Around 75% of the UK thinks that both supermarkets and governments ‘could be doing more to protect the environment’. 4. The Treat Imperative This trend will limit and delay progress to a perfectly progressive food culture. There will be those who will not budge easily from unwholesome treats. It is impossible to imagine a social order in which there is universal contentment with absolute self-abnegation. No healthy-living campaign has ever been completely successful. Even as science becomes ever more definitive about the dangers of even slightly immoderate consumption of wine, doughnuts, sausages, chocolate bars, treats will still sell. Indeed, it is natural for people to self-decree that they have earned / deserved a moment of reprieve, either because life otherwise drags or because one has been so virtuous for so much of the day. Most consumers will always be at least occasionally guilty of ‘selective- inattention’: being purposefully blind to the dangers and depredations of excess. The definition of treat will not remain stable. Time will alter the normative positioning of certain products: even meat (for the growing number of meat -moderating), will be considered a treat, rather than the default protein in every meal. But the indulgence itch will remain. Only 36% of adults agree that ‘By 2025, good parents will generally not give confectionery to their children as a snack or a reward’. 5. The Soft Squeeze The trend re-emphasises the perma- stability of price sensitivity within all essential expenditure for most households. But sustainable goods can respond. Even as incomes rise so price sensitivity in the consumer marketplace remains acute: a permanent paradox. The Trends That Matter 11  We Will Live As We Will Eat
  12. 12. “Household consumption has been very slow to recover by historical standards. Consumption per head of non-durables (things such as food and fuel that are bought and consumed roughly straightaway) was 3.8% lower in 2014 Q3 than in 2008 Q1. At the same point after the 1980s and 1990s recessions, it was 14.4% and 6.4% above pre-recession levels respectively. This might reflect households’ perceptions that their income prospects have been permanently damaged by the crisis and that a significant cut to their spending is therefore required.” IFS 2015 The 21st century contains ever-swelling invitations to spend, while uncertainty over the stability of personal/household income streams is a fixture in millions of lives. One’s personal commitment to a sustainability-respecting lifestyle is naturally constrained by one’s prevailing effective demand. Even as the totality of real income grows in the UK by (say, a roughly on-trend) 40% in real terms in the period 2015-2025, so even prosperous families will stay responsive to price relativities (cost of electricity v. cost of groceries, petrol v. clothes, holidays v. home insurance). Few products will ever enjoy perfectly elastic demand at any price. The consumption of many sustainability- subverting goods (e.g. meat) will naturally rise if/when over-the-counter costs fall. Around two-thirds of the UK wishes that the ‘supermarkets would supply food products at much lower prices than they do now’. 6. Me-Me Living The personalisation of living, shopping, eating and the precision of nutrition- messaging make for an ineluctable trend for all. Everyone’s individual carbon footprint, just like everyone’s individual nutritional intake, becomes tangible. Once, many products were made with only large clusters of end-users in mind: now, personalisation is increasing and increasingly feasible. Service- providers can bring uniquely crafted communications and offers directly to named consumer-citizens, whose life- situations, lifestyle choices and specific needs and appetites can be thoroughly known and predicted. This implies customised and co-created products (food, fashions, medicines), made available in all appropriate contextual and pretextual settings, at point of sale and at moments of distress. 35% of 16-24s agree that, by 2025, smart technology will ensure that all the food we eat is both healthy for us and produced in environmentally sensitive ways’. 7. Everyday Diversity Both social history and the state of current consumer appetites confirm this trend: millions are ready to alter their eating behaviours and occasions. There is no reason why sustainability messages cannot conquer at least some of this space. We live in a multiplicity of contrived occasions. Cultural diversity naturally creates new celebrations, festivals, feasts and our social calendar is accordingly punctuated. A collaborative marketing community delivers new pretexts for drinking unusual wines, cooking non-traditional dishes at Christmas, serving special foods to accompany sports events. Eid, Diwali, Christmas, Hanukah, Holi, Mothering Sunday, Valentine’s Day, now compete with new waves of social innovations: Gender Reveals, Black Friday, Divorce Parties, Bucket List Achievements, National Poetry Day, Meatless Monday and World Meat Free Day. All of this creates new opportunities for a purposeful colonisation of time: “It’s Monday and I must…” / “It’s Sunday lunch and it’s time for…”. There is a mix of asceticism and indulgence at work here. 8. Guerrilla Citizenry Nobody needs to take-it-or-leave-it any more. The clamour of complaint will quite possibly be responding ever more fiercely to deteriorating eco-conditions in the years ahead. In the age of social media, moral outrage naturally finds new recruits. Powerful regiments of discontent can gather around claims and demands over issues large and small, local and international, immediate and permanent: the air we breath, the food we eat, the taxes we pay, the behaviours we condemn, the public policies we repudiate, the companies we dislike. Often, from subject to subject, there is no unique authoritative orthodoxy. A competition for moral righteousness and intellectual hegemony becomes endemic. In anti-patriarchal times, many are suspicious of arguments wearing suits. Pressure groups multiply, issues flare, protest organises against the unclean and the ungodly. In this culture of complaint, those who, however mildly, are seen to be adulterating the business of living in any theatre can expect to be exposed and attacked, locally and nationally, over even micro issues. 61% of 16-24 year olds believe that ‘there The Trends That Matter 12  We Will Live As We Will Eat
  13. 13. is more that I personally could do to help protect the environment’. 90% of people support the idea of ‘food companies being totally honest about just how much energy (water, electricity, petrol) it costs to produce their individual products’. Over a quarter (26%) of 16-34 year olds say ‘I wish that my partner would care about the environment as much as I do’. How will each of these trends impact (positively or negatively) our Central Assumption: an Accrued Incremental Improvement in National Eating Culture? We see the trends in green as impacting heavily and positively; light-blue perhaps neutrally; navy-blue in possible opposition to the Central Assumption. “ ” The clamour of complaint will quite possibly be responding ever more fiercely to deteriorating eco-conditions in the years ahead. e High Positive Impact: The Irresistibility of Moderation e High Positive Impact: The End of Evasion e Positive Impact: Me-Me Living e Positive Impact: Everyday Diversity e Positive Impact: Guerilla Citizenry – Possible Neutral Impact: The Soft Squeeze f Negative Impact: Responsibility Overload f Negative Impact: The Treat Imperative The Trends That Matter 13  We Will Live As We Will Eat
  14. 14. 14  We Will Live As We Will Eat As we discussed earlier in this report, it is striking how reduced meat eating is not prominent in the current inventory of eco-actions favoured by consumer-citizens. Despite a widespread recognition that meat production has damaging ecological consequences, out research shows that few people believe that personally eating less meat will make a difference. The relative success over the years of campaigns relating to water-saving, recycling plastic bags, positive recycling and food miles suggests that the public can be persuaded to adopt more sustainable behaviours, but the ‘eat less meat for the sake of the planet’ message will require the alignment of the many pro-sustainability campaigners behind a common, consistent and simple set of messages. Moderation will always be a more compelling message for the mainstream population than abstinence. This is why messages of ‘eat meat as a treat’ or ‘eat less but better quality meat’ are likely to engage and persuade more effectively than arguments in favour of a completely vegetarian diet. The campaigners also need to avoid taking sustainability messages too far away from the consumer’s self- interest or assigning responsibilities to consumers when they think others should be shouldering them, especially government, the food industry and supermarkets. The UK government’s recent decision to impose a sugar tax on soft drinks suggests that we may be entering an era of increased legislation, driven by the public demand that ‘something should be done’ to address the obesity crisis. The imposition of a ‘meat tax’, in recognition of its environmental harms, would inevitably have an impact on consumption, although the public clamour for such a step would need to intensify considerably over the next decade for government to take this step. In our research 17% of the population agreed that ‘processed meat should be taxed (adding say 5-10% to the price)’ and only 7% that ‘fresh meat’ be taxed. This compares to 35% supporting the idea of a tax on ‘confectionery items such as chocolate bars and sweets’ and 37% for a tax on ‘meals bought in fast food restaurants’. In the foreseeable future, food manufactures and supermarkets – responding to growing consumer interest in/demand for more sustainable corporate behavior and their own corporate social responsibility agendas – are likely to have a greater impact than government. Food celebrities could also have a significant role to play, as underlined by Jamie Oliver’s high profile involvement in the successful sugar tax campaign. The stage appears to be set for a UK food celebrity to take the lead in championing a more sustainable attitude to food and cooking. This is a study which has no final chapter. Britain is beginning to take meat seriously in all its guises. This is the good news. Perhaps if we all think more about the environmental impact of our own behaviour and do more ourselves, rather than simply look to government and business to solve the planet’s problems, there is even much better news to come. An Accelerated Future External socio-economic and cultural trends seem to favour our Central Assumption of Accrued Incremental Improvements in our National Eating Culture. This is undoubtedly a positive outcome, although the pace of change is likely to disappoint many pro-sustainability activists. They might well ask how might this gradualist trend be accelerated? “ ” External socio-economic and cultural trends seem to favour our Central Assumption.
  15. 15. Scientific realities “The farm animal production sector is the single largest human user of land, contributing to soil degradation, water quality and availability issues, and air pollution in addition to detrimentally impacting rural and urban communities, public health and animal welfare.” FAO SAFA Guidelines 2014 http://www.fao.org/nr/sustainability/sustainability- assessments-safa/en/ “The overall message is clear : globally we should eat less meat… We cannot avoid dangerous climate change unless we eat less meat.” RIIA 2015 https://www.chathamhouse.org/publication/changing- climate-changing-diets “A sustainable system provides safe, healthy and affordable food for all and does not use natural resources at a rate that exceeds the capacity of the earth to replenish them…it is widely acknowledged that the UK’s current food system is not sustainable”. Which? / HMG Office for Science 2015 http://www.sciencewise-erc.org.uk/cms/assets/Uploads/ Which-GOS-Food-Report-FINAL6.pdf Perceived inhibitions to progress “Attitudes to meat-eating are culturally- embedded…People do not eat meat, they eat meals.” Eating Better 2015 http://www.eating-better.org/uploads/Documents/ Let'sTalkAboutMeat.pdf “Information provision and awareness- raising are important but not usually sufficient to drive changes in behaviour.” Eating Better 2015 http://www.eating-better.org/uploads/Documents/ Let'sTalkAboutMeat.pdf “There is little dispute about the importance of …the role of a moderate intake of livestock products; communicating this to the consumer should be a priority… (recognising the power of vested interests in promulgating contradictory messages).” HMG Office for Science 2011 https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/ attachment_data/file/288329/11-546-future-of-food-and- farming-report.pdf “There is no optimal level of meat consumption…It is important to remember that much food behaviour is not based on rational choice… Most consumers are not motivated by explicit sustainability messages.” Defra 2013 https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/ attachment_data/file/229537/pb14010-green-food-project- sustainable-consumption.pdf Meat under pressure “How can normal consumers understand the impacts caused by their consumption of meat? … Are we aware of the consequences of industrial rearing on poverty and hunger, the displacements of population and migration, the well-being of animals and climate change and biodiversity. At the supermarket, the packets of meat and sausages expose none of these preoccupations”. Heinrich Boll Stiftung (Translation : Dissident Insight) https://www.boell.de/de/2016/03/01/iss-was-tiere-fleisch-ich “It is estimated that an astonishing 15,500 liters of water is needed to produce just one kilo of beef”. United Nations http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/dsd_sd21st/21_pdf/agriculture_ and_food_the_future_of_sustainability_web.pdf “Current evidence shows that the average US diet has a larger environmental impact in terms of increased greenhouse gas emissions… About half of all American adults have one of more preventable chronic diseases that are related to poor quality dietary patterns”. DGAC USA http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015-scientific- report/02-executive-summary.asp “Fast canteen food … can be improved. More attractive prices can be offered for dishes of higher nutrition – for example, fish and vegetables over the traditional steak-frites”. Department of Health, France (Translation: Dissident Insight) http://social-sante.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/PNNS_UK_INDD_V2.pdf Literature Review 15  We Will Live As We Will Eat
  16. 16. 14 Gray’s Inn Rd London WC1X 8HN hello@dissident.biz www.dissident.biz

×