Germans eat less meat and more chicken

New German figures show that Germans once again ate less meat last year than the year before. About 52 kilograms of meat products per capita, almost a pound less than a year earlier.

The decrease was slightly less than in previous years, but has now reached a historic low. A quarter of the amount of meat consumed in Germany consists of poultry meat, especially chicken meat. This was eaten considerably more last year: from 12.2 to 13.1 kilograms.

In Germany, a social debate has been going on for years about the modernization of agriculture and livestock farming. A lot of attention is paid to the large quantities of animal manure that must be spread on grassland, and to the working conditions and quality in German slaughterhouses. A group of experts from the so-called Borchert committee presented a detailed plan for this about two years ago.

An important part of this is increasing animal welfare in pig breeding and the dairy sector. To achieve this, the stables will have to be enlarged, partly (in one way or another) co-financed by the government. There is no agreement on this yet in German politics.

The Future Committee for Agriculture (ZKL) believes that government support should be paid for by a VAT increase on food products made from animal products. The accountants of the Borchert Commission in Berlin made this known in an advice to Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

The previously issued advice on a major agricultural transition mentioned three possible co-payment variants: the VAT increase for meat and dairy, a new meat tax, or a subsidy from the government treasury. In the 2021 election campaigns, the now ruling center-left coalition parties (SPD, Greens and FDP) could not agree on this.

The key point was (and still is) the question of who ultimately has to pay for that subsidy: the stable owner himself, the meat consumer or all taxpayers. The financial experts now say that increasing the VAT (reduced two years ago) is the simplest and practical solution.

The German farmers' association DBV says it is against this: higher VAT or a new separate meat tax makes it more expensive for consumers and can lead to fewer sales. DBV chairman Joachim Rukwied argued for payment from general funds, via the tax assessment.