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Marketing Meat: How EU Promotional Funds Favour Meat and Dairy

Promotion and marketing of European agricultural products is part of the EU’s farming policy, the common agricultural policy (the CAP), which accounts a third of the EU’s overall budget.

To tackle the ecological, climate and public health crises, meat and dairy consumption must fall,  but so far the EU commission has refrained from committing to scaling down the promotion of meat and dairy products.  Last reviewed in 2014, the policy’s objectives include no reference to advancing healthier diets among consumers, nor to promoting farming methods with less harmful impacts on nature and the climate.  The stated intention is clear: to increase consumption and sales.

Greenpeace is demanding that funding is aligned with the urgent need to shift European diets to protect public health, nature and the climate. In its report from 2021 entitled ‘Marketing Meat’, Greenpeace states:

“In the period 2016–2020, the EU spent €252.4 million to exclusively promote European meat and dairy products, 32%  of the overall €776.7 million  spending on the promotion of agricultural products in the EU and abroad.

€214.7 million, 28% of the funding in 2016–2020, was spent on promotion of mixed “baskets” of products, almost all of which included meat and dairy products.

Funding for campaigns promoting fruit and vegetables, or more plant-based diets, has been smaller.  Over the years 2016–2020, fruits and vegetables were promoted with only €146.4 million, 19% of the budget.

Promotional projects that included some organic food (but didn’t necessarily promote exclusively organic products) covered only 9% of all the EU funding in 2016–2019.

The objectives in the approved funding applications of several meat and dairy promotional campaigns funded by the EU explicitly state they aim to reverse declines in, or maintain the growth of, meat and dairy consumption in Europe – even if this reduction is much needed according to health and environmental research.”

The ‘Proud of Beef’ campaign, with € 3.6 million of EU funding, promotes the idea of becoming a “beefatarian” supposedly to promote “balanced, healthy diets”.  The campaign fails to make any reference to the widely recognised health risks or environmental damage associated with red and processed meat.

Science tells us that to restore nature, avoid the worst of climate breakdown and protect public health, we must produce and consume much less meat and dairy.  The EU’s promotional programme is actively pushing consumption in the wrong direction.

The above extracts are taken directly from the Greenpeace report.

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