How growing complexity of consumer choices and drivers of consumption behaviour affect demand for animal source foods

Many societies are spoiled for choice when they purchase meat and other livestock products, and around the globe food choice has grown dramatically in the last two decades. What is more, besides the cost and obvious health concerns influencing commodity section, an increasing proportion of choices is made to contribute to the achievement of certain ideals, such as natural resource management, climate change mitigation, animal welfare concerns and personal lifestyle. At the same time, human health considerations are becoming more important for consumption choices as richer societies, and increasingly the urban poor in low and middle-income countries, face an unprecedented epidemic of over-consumption and associated diet related non-communicable diseases. Animal source foods are considered significant contributors to this trend. This paper reviews this complicated arena, and explores the range of considerations that influence consumers’ preferences for meat and other animal source foods. This paper also argues that deeper drivers of consumption behaviour of many foods may act in opposition to the articulated preferences for choices around animal source food consumption. We review how the returns to different causes are being valued, how emerging metrics are helping to manage and influence consumption behaviours, and draw conclusions regarding options which influence food choice.