Meat more expensive for animal welfare – vegetables and fruit cheaper? | free press

Berlin (dpa) – When shopping for groceries, the most important thing is how it tastes – and what it costs. However, it is also becoming increasingly clear that millions of supermarket customers can influence how food trends and production conditions change every day.

After the federal election, the focus will be specifically on meat and sausage surcharges to help fund renovations to increase barn space. The consumer advice centers argue in favor of embedding such additional costs in a total concept: with cheaper fruit and vegetables.

“It is important to provide relief in addition to this price increase,” said the head of the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (vzbv), Klaus Müller, of the German news agency. And it would have an immediate effect if vegetables, fruit and legumes were simultaneously subject to an even lower VAT rate. “That means we would be below seven percent here.”

Animal welfare costs money

The debate has accelerated since an expert committee of the Ministry of Agriculture around former department head Jochen Borchert proposed an “animal welfare tax” to fund billions in investments in better livestock farming conditions. For example, 40 cents per kilo of meat and sausage can be envisaged, 2 cents per kilo for milk and fresh milk products, 15 cents per kilo for cheese and butter. This could be introduced as a consumption tax. Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner (CDU) supports such plans. However, concrete implementation is a matter for the new government after the federal elections.

Müller said it was about acceptance. “If we want to keep animals in a different way, which the majority of the population supports, you will also see that reflected in the prices.” For many consumers, however, more expensive animal products meant “a real cut in their lifestyle and household budget”. That is why, in addition to free high-quality catering in nurseries and schools and the increase in social transfer benefits, it is an important point to compensate for this via VAT.

Sunday roast and stir-fry vegetables

“Someone who then wants to eat the same as today will pay more on balance,” said the top consumer advocate. “But someone who changes their diet a bit – there’s still the Sunday Roast, but maybe baked vegetables during the week – has the opportunity to eat as cheaply as today.” A reduction in VAT on fruit and vegetables was also mentioned by an agricultural commission appointed by the federal cabinet as an option for financial incentives. Because ‘sustainable’ should be promoted more plant-based food with less meat.

Klöckner told the Public Prosecution Service: “We should not kid ourselves: if you want more animal welfare, then stables have to be converted so that animals have more space and outside air.” That costs livestock farmers a lot of money, many are still paying off their current stables. “So it’s going to cost us all more, maybe 40 cents more per kilo of meat. I think that should be worth more to our animal welfare.” This would also make other foodstuffs, such as fruit and vegetables, cheaper than animal products. “At the same time, meat should not become a luxury product.” Social benefits would then have to be adjusted accordingly.

Greens for, AfD against

The Greens are also betting on change, including retail prices – for example with a ‘conversion subsidy’ for farmers, which is funded through an ‘animal welfare penny’ on animal products. To make vegetarian and vegan food more attractive and accessible, plant-based milk alternatives should be sold with the reduced VAT rate. “We also want to lower the tax on fair trade coffee”, the election program states.

In its program, the AfD declares that “adult consumers” should not be patronized by the state in their consumer behavior. “That’s why we reject any form of separate food tax, such as a meat or sugar tax.”

“Free childcare and school meals”

Die Linke demands: “We want to introduce free childcare and school catering throughout Germany that uses regionally and environmentally sustainable food.” To reduce waste, supermarkets should be required to provide sorted but still edible food for free. The SPD is also committed to free childcare and school catering and wants to ban retailers and producers from throwing away edible food.

In the case of foodstuffs, the FDP wants to investigate, among other things, for which products the rigid best-before date can be replaced by “a dynamic spoilage limit”. “Intelligent” packaging and less liability for food donations can help reduce waste. The Union also advocates nutritional education and “access to quality childcare and school meals” for every child. Together with industry, a «National Food Agency» should be established to promote local regional products and local high standards at home and abroad.

Consumer lawyer Müller: ‘Many bends’

Consumer lawyer Müller also sees price reductions for fruit and vegetables in a larger context. “Politicians are currently talking about many changes: an energy shift, a mobility shift, an agricultural shift. All of them will initially contribute to making the prices for energy-intensive products more expensive.”

He is already calling on all economists: “We are going to have a lively debate about this political inflation. If all the turning points come to Germany at once, they must first add up to the inflation figures that have washed up.” That is bearable if there is relief on the other side at the same time.

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