As of: 12/30/2021 10:06 a.m.
Because of the high environmental and climate damage caused by the consumption of meat and milk, Greenpeace is urging an increase in VAT. However, critics fear social consequences and a surge in prices.
The debate about food prices in Germany continues. After Cem Özdemir (Greens) criticized junk prices for food and agricultural products in an interview at the weekend, Greenpeace is now also standing behind the new Federal Minister of Agriculture. According to the environmental protection organization, meat and dairy products should be subject to higher taxes.
“The new federal government should adjust the value added tax for meat and dairy products to the regular rate of 19 percent. In return, it can lower or completely eliminate the value added tax on fruit and vegetables,” said Greenpeace agricultural expert Matthias Lambrecht of the Funke media group. “This would relieve consumers and create incentives for more environmentally friendly and climate-friendly consumption of plant-based foods.”
Damage of around six billion euros annually
Most recently, the board of directors of the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (vzbv), Klaus Müller, advocated a tax cut on fruit, vegetables and pulses. This is “a good and healthy compensation” for the recent high price increases for food, which also makes it easier to switch to climate-friendly products.
At the same time, the farms needed targeted support for improved animal husbandry, Greenpeace expert Lambrecht added. Those consumers who consumed meat and dairy products should pay for this through a tax or levy. “The consumption of meat and dairy products in Germany causes environmental and climate damage amounting to around six billion euros a year. The real costs are not reflected in the price,” he explained.
The consumption of animal products is also promoted “with more than five billion euros annually, because only the reduced VAT rate of seven percent is levied on these products”. It is not about telling people what they should eat, but simply about enforcing the polluter pays principle if the market fails, said Lambrecht.
Warn Wohlfartsverband and Union
Greenpeace thus supports Özdemir’s statements from the weekend. The politician had demanded that there should be no more junk prices for groceries. There are three goals: a secure income for the farmers, more animal welfare, climate and environmental protection and healthy food for everyone. Özdemir also made it clear that food should not become a “luxury good”.
While the German Animal Welfare Association supported the project, consumer advocates and the opposition expressed concerns. The managing director of the Paritätischer Wohlfahrtsverband, Ulrich Schneider, demanded that price increases must be accompanied by significantly higher standard rates. “You can’t separate ecological and social issues. It’s only eco-social, otherwise you lose the support of the population,” Schneider told “Welt”.
Higher animal welfare requirements would lead to higher prices anyway. “With this spiral that you then start, you have to be careful that the little farmers don’t fall behind,” added Schneider. He thinks Özdemir’s demand for healthier finished products is correct. The Union also declared that it would pay close attention to the social impact, because “not everyone can afford organic products,” said Union vice-parliamentary group leader Steffen Bilger. He sees a danger from the possible import of cheaper food from abroad.
“Manufacturers who only want to ride the price wave”
The retail giant Rewe is already facing a wave of price demands from the food industry. “There have never been so many demands for price increases from the industry as this year,” said Rewe boss Lionel Souque of the dpa news agency. The manager admitted that some of the price increases were justified. After all, raw material prices have recently risen significantly for many products such as pasta or coffee.
“But there are also manufacturers who only want to ride the price wave,” complained Souque. There are multinational corporations who brag to their shareholders about how they had cut their costs and still tried to cling to the price wave. “We have to be careful not to let these companies get away with their demands, because in the end the customer pays for them,” said Souque. That is why it is also important that Rewe have enough bargaining power.