Impact of consumer behaviour (XC13)

This is an emerging XC activity addressed in TradeM task 3.6.

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Our food choices have an impact not only on our health and well-being, but also on the environment. We are faced with the double challenge of reducing GHG emissions, while still producing enough food for our growing population. We will analyse how the current trends in food consumption patterns (stagnating meat consumption, ageing population etc.) are likely to affect European food market balances. Modelling tools will be applied to analyse the consequences of these trends. The potential for different policy instruments (e.g. taxes and subsidies) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by changing diets will be evaluated.

MACSUR1 paved the way for an integrated assessment of the impact of climate change on European agriculture. Activities focused on the impacts of climate change on production and food security, including modelling of adaptation and mitigation strategies. However, this combined modelling effort provided only limited insights into how the behaviour of consumers might affect climate change and how climate change will impact consumer behaviour in Europe. This ‘missing part’ of MACSUR will be explicitly addressed in MACSUR2. The modelling tools available from on-going research will be applied to analyse the consequences of different trends, for example to compare the environmental effects of reductions in meat consumption with the effects of implementing climate change mitigation strategies in the livestock production sector. Climate change is likely to have an impact on many factors which can affect consumer behaviour, including fluctuations in food prices, changes in government policy and public advices, general awareness of environmental issues, and cultural changes resulting from inward migration to the EU. Our activities will contribute to assessing how the consequences of climate change might affect the demand for food in Europe. Work on this topic will complement and support thematic activities such as modelling of food price fluctuations in TradeM, as well as associated cross-cutting work on topics such as the mitigation of GHG emissions from agriculture, and feed quality and utilisation.

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