Backing meat

So, the industry's push against the anti-meat eating lobby, got some power behind it this week and NFU Scotland is to be commended for going all out to make the most of an Irish study which debunked the Eat Lancet claims about red meat's role in the national diet (see our lead page story).

While it's heartening that this has come out at such a crucial time, it's worthwhile pausing to take due note of what is exactly financing the constant barrage of anto-meat rhetoric. There's a tonne of money from very wealthy backers – Jeff Bezos, of Amazon, and Bill Gates, of Microsoft, for instance, are known investors – just waiting to pile even more money into manufactured 'meat' substitutes. They will not back down easily. They and their 'people' are also very savvy when it comes to using their war chests to push the buttons of a population ever dependent on the 'pings' and 'bongs' of social media.

Therefore, the industry must itself invest time and much effort in continuing to rebuff these anti-meat claims, some of them fanciful in the extreme. Time and effort is just about all it can do at the moment, given that it does not have the financial clout that could even come close to matching the multi-national interests that have already backed non-meat protein ventures.

Fortunately, the demand for meat has remained pretty constant and, indeed, there is every reason to suggest that it is actually rising, with huge potential for increased consumption in the Far East. But these financial backers are unlikely to step back easily and it will take resolve, the best use of PR and the available pro-meat data that backs it as part of a healthy diet.

But while we would all hope for common sense to prevail in this argument, it would seem that real meat remains important to retailers, especially those who have seen their shelves of 'meat substitutes' full of unsold stock. Nothing else could explain why there seems a renewed attempt to stock imported real meat products on their shelves, unless, of course, it is to take the heat out of a GB market which is riding pretty high at the moment?

All the data suggests, however, that there's not a lot of surplus available throughout the world to allow wholesale imports and that this spoiling tactic – which its most certainly is – will be short-lived. That said, there is no excuse for retailers turning to imported pig meat products to populate their stores when so much of the GB product should be readily available at handy prices.

It's time for the retailers to stand up and be counted on this one because it might not be too long before they need some strategic support from the industry to maintain shelves full of meat products. Red meat protein is becoming increasingly scarce around the world and retailers should be sticking with those who they know can supply the quality and, if the price is right, the quantity they might need for the long term. And all because the public has shown that it still wants red meat.