This ask report considers the impact of increasing the price of meat products to reduce demand.
Many charities try to reduce demand for meat products, but few have done so through directly attempting to increase the price of meat. Additionally there is good evidence to suggest that price is a major factor in people’s purchasing behaviour. This is strengthened further by the success other price-based interventions have found. In a previous report, we found that taxing tobacco products could be a highly effective way of reducing their demand. It seems, then, that a charity that significantly increased the price of meat products could have an impressive effect on decreasing the number of animals born into the meat industry.
However, there are major issues with the potential practical applications of this intervention. We considered many ways of enacting price change, such as increasing feed cost, reducing illegal fishing practices, direct meat taxation, reducing government subsidies, and even altering China’s fishing laws. Each one of these, though, came with a set of drawbacks which made it unattractive after deeper consideration. For example, increasing the cost of feed may (on top of many other potential issues) encourage importing meat products from lower-welfare countries, and thus only redirect the animals involved into worse conditions. To make this intervention even less attractive, welfare-based interventions often also increase the price of meat products, thus calling into question the need for direct efforts towards price increase.
Our preliminary research would suggest that this is not a very promising intervention, as it is unclear that any given application would yield strong results compared to our top welfare-based interventions. We expect this to fall into the bottom 5 of our ask reports.
You can read the report for a deeper analysis of the intervention, as well as why we are sceptical of each practical application we considered.
Our priority ask reports are focused on what are the particular improvements or changes that can be “asked” for from corporations, governments, or individuals. Going cage free, making dietary changes, regulating slaughter practices, and many other asks all serve as examples here. They are compared based on the strength of the idea (including the evidence base and estimated cost-effectiveness), limiting factors, execution difficulty, and externalities. All of these factors together could begin to suggest which asks might be the most effective when combined with a priority animal, country, and approach. However, these ask reports are short summaries of longer unpublished reports and, therefore, even if an ask looks promising this does not necessarily suggest that it will end up being a promising charity once paired with other elements and cross-compared to the other strongest possible charities. It just suggests that it is worth further and deeper investigation from our team. You can see our full planned research process here.
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