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An overview of insights on the (un)sustainability of the international food system.

Food & Sustainability

What trends do we see in Dutch food consumption?

Several trends are noticeable in Dutch food consumption, such as the choice of consumers to eat meat less often and choosing more sustainable products.

Eating less meat

A growing number of consumers indicates that it is flexitarian: 43% eat meat no more than four days a week and 77% do so at most six days. These consumers regularly choose to have a vegetarian (dinner) meal, unconsciously, because of the context of meals or for health and sustainability reasons. Nevertheless, real vegetarians remain amongst the few, because of a combination of factors such as the low price of meat, advertising and marketing of food, meat as a status symbol or simply the power of habit. Meat consumption fluctuated around 80 kilograms per capita between 2005 and 2010, and through to 2014 decreased to 76 kilograms per capita.

De Bakker, H. C. M., & Dagevos, H. (2010), p. 135, 182-185.

Dagevos, H., Voordouw, J., Van Hoeven, L., Van der Weele, C., & De Bakker, E. (2012), p. 9-10.

Verhoog, D., Wijsman, H., Terluin, I. (2015), p. 7.

Certificates and sustainable product selection

Since it started tracking the amount of sustainably certified products in the market, the Monitor Sustainable Food (‘Monitor Duurzaam Voedsel’) shows that market share for such products has risen to 6.1%. More and more consumers opt for environmentally and animal friendly alternatives when they go shopping. A quarter of consumers indicate that they look for labels at least sometimes, with free-range eggs, fish with a Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) label, meat with Better Life stars or organic products being the most popular options. Furthermore, four out of 10 know where their food comes from; half looks for seasonal vegetables and fruit and just over half says it reduces energy use during cooking. Although the share of certified products is increasing, a growing number of consumers thinks there are too many different labels in the market and that companies label products as sustainable too easily. With the Keurmerkenwijzer (Dutch only) MilieuCentraal tries to respond to this discontent.

LEI (2014), p. 9.

Voedingscentrum (2015), p. 53-60.