Soil Association calls for change in meat-eating habits

Consumers will have to make some tough decisions over the coming years on their eating habits, including meat, a leading Soil Association official has warned.

Soil Association commercial director Jim Twine, speaking at a debate at Foodex on whether the recession has changed the way people will eat forever, claimed people should be eating less meat and eat meat that is better quality.

He said: “I think consumers are going to have to change they way they eat. We are going to have to eat a diet that is closer to what the World Health Organisation recommends, which is more seasonal, more freshly prepared, more local and less but better-quality meat.

"I say this as a meat farmer myself, but no one wants to tackle that because it goes back to issues of the nanny state, it goes back to telling people what they should or shouldn’t be doing.”

A panel of experts debated the issue of the changing habits of consumers in the present and in the future, which included Asda corporate affairs director Paul Kelly and chief executive and founder of Leon Restaurants Henry Dimbleby.

In the discussion, Asda’s Kelly warned that retailers had be careful of not getting too far ahead of its customers and their demands when making decisions on supply.

“If you take animal welfare issues and you take the programmes that Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall did, the reality was if any supermarket, even a medium-sized retailer, said 'I’m going to switch into wholly organic and free-range', there wouldn’t have been enough supply there to meet that demand, so we’ve got to do work to create capacity in the market and that’s a push and pull effect,” he said.

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