BERLIN — Concern about poor working conditions in the meat industry after repeated coronavirus outbreaks at slaughterhouses may speed up a trend among Germans to opt for higher-priced, better quality meat and vegetarian and vegan substitutes.
Germany, Europe’s biggest pork producer and home to 1,500 varieties of sausage, has seen meat consumption decline for years as people buy less of it driven by health reasons and concerns for animal welfare.
The coronavirus pandemic may have added a further reason to the list, after outbreaks at slaughterhouses and meat packing plants drew the public’s attention to the industry’s use of subcontracted workers from eastern Europe who live in cramped accommodation.
“We see a trend away from very cheap meat and towards higher quality and substitute products,” said Robert Kecskes, an analyst from the market research company GfK.
“It is not only about animal welfare, it is about human welfare, and that will become entrenched in people’s minds. In this respect, the meat industry will definitely have a hard time in the near future.”