When it comes to food, one thing is certain: first and foremost, it should taste good. 99 percent of those surveyed also think so in the new edition of an annual survey that the Federal Ministry of Food presented on Friday in Berlin.
In times of high inflation and the climate crisis, some eating and shopping habits are changing - as are expectations of food production. Eating meat every day is becoming less common. Plant-based alternatives are at least slowly increasing. But many people have to or want to pay attention to money and time. Politicians want to support the trend towards sustainability with new labels. However, there is controversy about ways to achieve a healthier diet.
Minister Cem Özdemir said at the presentation of the “Nutrition Report 2023” that eating culture was developing rapidly. “You shouldn’t turn this into a culture war.” People made conscious decisions when it came to eating. It is therefore important to ensure that you have the choice and that it becomes easier to eat well. Many have long since progressed beyond "one or two shrill notes" in the political dispute.
Less and less meat
According to the survey, 20 percent of people still eat meat and sausage every day or several times a day. Last year 25 percent said this and in 2015 it was 34 percent. At the same time, vegan or vegetarian alternatives to meat and milk are becoming more popular. Ten percent now use such plant-based products every day - after nine percent last year and five percent in the first survey in 2020. Those aged 14 to 29 now make up the most at 18 percent. For the representative survey, the Forsa Institute reportedly surveyed 1,001 people aged 14 and over from May 15th to 26th.
“The number of flexitarians tends to increase,” explained Özdemir. This refers to flexible vegetarians who consciously eat less meat, but often of better quality. The food industry has already recognized the great growth potential of the market for plant-based products, says Özdemir. The environmental organization WWF also called on retailers to change course in their marketing. Around the grilling season, meat has been advertised much more than substitute products.
Time, money and more
For many people, cooking shouldn't be too complicated or too time-consuming. A good half (52 percent) of those surveyed find it important or very important that the food is easy and quick to prepare. This was found by 60 percent of women and 43 percent of men. The criteria for selecting products also show the effects of the still sharp rise in food prices. “I make sure that it is inexpensive,” said 57 percent, compared to 47 percent in the previous year. 73 percent pay attention to offers, compared to 61 percent previously.
The consumer advice centers warned that rising prices were making a healthy and sustainable diet increasingly difficult. And the reasons for the continued high prices are completely unclear. “That has to change,” said the head of the federal association, Ramona Pop. Aspects of sustainable production rank ahead of the price in the list of purchase criteria: 80 percent say they pay attention to how the animal from which the food comes from was raised. 74 percent mentioned environmentally and resource-saving production.
Labels and advertising disputes
To create more transparency in purchasing decisions, several new labels are on the horizon. From 2024 onwards, a state logo should also display the type of animal husbandry for meat. Mandatory labeling for domestic pork products in stores is to begin. A system is planned with five husbandry categories during fattening, from the legal minimum standard to organic. Supermarket chains have been labeled for a long time. Diners will soon be able to recognize the organic content in canteens and restaurants by a circular logo in the medal colors gold, silver and bronze.
A building block for healthier eating is in the traffic light coalition. Özdemir once again promoted his legislative plans to ban the advertising of unhealthy foods aimed at children, which he also narrowed down. The FDP specialist politician Gero Hocker emphasized: "Nutritional education, other physical education and more exercise in everyday life help overweight children more than any bans." He referred to a statement from the Bundestag's Scientific Service. It states that there are calculations that advertising bans could contribute to a reduction in the prevalence of obesity among children. However, as far as can be seen, there were no studies that specifically demonstrated a direct connection.