Consumers expect to keep protein on their shopping lists as part of a healthy and sustainable diet, according to new survey

Meat, fish and eggs can be an important part of a healthy and environmentally responsible diet, say consumers in new global research from Cargill. And they plan to keep eating them too—along with plant-based dietary protein. More than two-thirds of respondents say they intend to maintain or increase their consumption of animal protein in the next year. Four-fifths of participants express interest in plant-based or alternative sources of protein.

“We’re pleased consumers see animal protein as an important part of a healthy diet,” said Chuck Warta, president of Cargill’s premix and nutrition business. “Dietary guidance consistently emphasises the benefits of adequate protein intake from a variety of sources. Our aim is to help our livestock, poultry and aquaculture customers meet the growing global demand for protein in the most healthy, productive and sustainable way possible.”

In its latest Feed4Thought survey, Cargill found 93% of respondents said they cared about feeding the world sustainably, with 84% saying it impacts what they buy. Animal protein makes the cut, according to most consumers, with 80% of survey participants saying it can be part of an environmentally responsible regimen and 93% saying it can play an important role in a healthy diet. 

“Access to poultry meat and eggs can rapidly improve people’s diets and have a major impact on their lives,” said Pierre Ferrari, president and chief executive of Heifer International. 

Cargill recently partnered with Heifer to launch Hatching Hope, an initiative aimed at improving the nutrition and livelihoods of 100 million people by 2030, by training and opening markets for subsistence poultry farmers and providing nutrition education for their communities. 

“We’re investing in smart, resourceful women farmers, working with them to improve their products, access new markets and build sustainable businesses that generate living incomes,” said Ferrari. 

Consumers expect companies like Cargill to step up. When asked who bears most responsibility for ensuring food production is sustainable, almost a third of participants selected food and feed manufacturers as their top choice. Governments came in second (25%) and then consumers via the foods we eat (20%).  

Cargill said it took this responsibility seriously and had developed new policies on South American sustainable soy, human rights and deforestation.

“Cargill’s research and innovation around feed additives play an important role for us in terms of ways we can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” said Townsend Bailey, director of US Supply Chain Sustainability at McDonalds, “as well as ways we can reduce antibiotic use.”

Respondents globally were fairly evenly split between wanting livestock, poultry and fish farmers to focus on reducing antibiotics, using feed with sustainable ingredients, reducing pollutants and “doing more with less” (e.g. improving feed efficiency).

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