The effect of choice on meat consumption

History has always recorded that the very wealthy can and do eat whatever they want and generally that has always included numerous forms of meat. Economic democracy is really a product of the twentieth century whereby the emergence of a middle class allowed humans to have a choice about what foods they wanted to consume.

Certainly the salad years of the Roman Empire and Greece as well as isolated city-states at various times in history produced similar results for their citizens, but nothing rivals the emergence of the middle classes in the 1900s in changing food consumption patterns that were long dominated by climate and culture. After World War II more and more consumers changed their food consumption habits as they moved into middle class.

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Consumers could now use taste as a choice beyond the bounds of what culture and climate dictated as their food. The middle classes now had enough income to choose beyond the base necessities of life, ushering in the most signifi cant change in demand in human history. 1.4 Determinates of consumer demand for meat 1.4.1 Relationship between price and quantity demanded The theory of consumer demand says that consumers have a diminishing utility, thus to induce more consumption, price has to be lowered.

Therefore an inverse relationship between the quantity demanded and price exists. An individual consumer will pay a certain price for a beef steak. The beef steak satisfi es their need/want (utility). To induce that same consumer to purchase more beef steak, the price would have to be lowered since the consumer was satisfi ed with the fi rst beef steak. This ‘law of diminishing utility’ has a few exceptions but has survived the test of time.

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As consumers respond to changes in price for meat, they will likewise change the quantity they demand (consume). Figure 1.1 illustrates this effect – if the price of meat increases from price A to price B, consumers will decrease the quantity of meat they demand from quantity A to quantity B. In mature economies, most of the yearly changes in meat consumption will come from changes in price. Given an existing customer base, market experts know to ‘move more product’ price has to be lowered

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