BELGIUM, Brussels. Meat continues to occupy an important place in the diet of Belgians, even if private household consumption has fallen by 3% per capita in 2019. The consumption of fresh meat in the home accounts for three quarters of total meat consumption. The other quarter is due to consumption outside the home.
The majority of Belgians regularly alternate red meat with poultry, fish and vegetarian dishes. The proportion of poultry (especially chicken) is increasing, as is the still very limited proportion of vegetarian meat substitutes, which accounts for 1.1% of the volume. So Belgians continue to enjoy meat regularly, albeit in moderation, for reasons of taste, eating habits and nutritional value.
The hit parade of the most popular meat products has remained virtually unchanged for years. While meat preparations made from several types of meat represent the largest segment in terms of volume, the higher-priced beef occupies first place in terms of value.
The local supermarkets and hard discounters (Aldi and Lidl) have further expanded their market share. The origin of the meat plays an increasingly important role in the Kingdom as a purchasing criterion: 96% of Belgians who value origin prefer meat from their own country. This is shown by the data compiled by GfK Belgium and iVox for VLAM 2019 in Belgium.
On behalf of VLAM, GfK Belgium registers the private purchases of 5,000 Belgian households. The representative survey shows that 97% of all Belgian households continue to buy meat (pork, beef, veal, lamb or horse meat) at least once a year.
On average, the frequency with which families shop fell from 43 times a year in 2014 to 38 times in 2019. In return, the quantities per purchase increase (one-stop shopping). Even if larger quantities of meat end up in the shopping basket per purchase act, the volumes cannot be compensated for due to the declining purchasing frequency. All in all, per capita consumption of red meat has shrunk by 3.2 kg within five years to 16.4 kg in 2019.
The declining consumption of red meat in private households is due to the increased consumption outside the home and the fact that poultry, fish or vegetarian dishes are served more often. In 2019, an average of 16.4 kg of fresh red meat, 8.4 kg of fresh poultry and game, 4.6 kg of fresh fish, mussels and crustaceans and 0.35 kg of vegetarian meat substitutes ended up in the shopping basket of the individual Belgian.
72% of Belgians say they eat meat one to five times a week, 19% eat meat more often and 9% eat meat less often or never. Fish, mussels and crustaceans are on the menu once a week for 42%. 23% of Belgians choose vegetarian meat substitutes at least once a week and 35% eat a meat or fish-free meal at least once a week or opt for the typical vegetarian meat substitutes.
The preferences of Belgians in eating fresh meat have remained virtually unchanged: "mixed meat" (e.g. minced meat) is the largest segment, accounting for 36% of the volume, followed by pure pork with 31%. Pure beef has increased its volume share by one percentage point to 26%. Beef accounts for 33% of fresh meat expenditure. Veal is considered a niche product both in terms of volume and value, with a share of 3 and 5% respectively.
The appearance of the meat, together with its best-before date, remains the most important purchase criterion. This is followed by the price, the product category, the place of purchase and the packaging. Only then do aspects such as origin and production method come into play.
Just like the importance of the country of origin, which rose from 52% in 2013 to 61% in 2020, the production method (from 42 to 50%) is becoming more and more important. 96% of Belgians who are guided by the country of origin when making their purchasing decision prefer Belgian meat.
DIS 1 (the hypermarkets and larger supermarkets such as Albert Heijn, Carrefour Hypermarkets, Carrefour Market, Colruyt, Delhaize Supermarkets, Makro, ...) remain the most important outlets for fresh meat in Belgium with a volume share of 38.4%, even if they have had to give up market shares to the hard discounters (Aldi and Lidl). The neighbourhood supermarkets are growing.