30 March 2022, by Victoria Séveno

The Dutch government is looking into the possibility of introducing a new tax on meat products in the hopes that higher prices would encourage people in the Netherlands to eat less meat. 

Could shoppers in the Netherlands soon face a levy on meat?

On Tuesday, Minister for Agriculture Henk Staghouwer informed the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) of the cabinet’s plans to investigate options for introducing a meat levy as part of the government’s new food policy. 

The national food policy is aimed at reducing meat consumption and encouraging customers to opt for more vegetable proteins – a move that should “contribute to both sustainability and health,” Staghouwer said. By 2030, the government hopes the average diet will consist of 50 percent animal and 50 percent vegetable protein, instead of the current 60 / 40 ratio. The plan is that proceeds from the so-called meat tax would be invested in livestock farming, allowing the industry to become more sustainable.

MPs across a number of parties have criticised Staghouwer’s plans; Derk Jan Eppink from JA21 spoke of a “culinary dictatorship,” while Alexander Kops from the Party for Freedom (PVV) called the plan “bizarre” in light of the ever-increasing cost of living in the Netherlands.

Dutch government looks to encourage healthy and sustainable living

The news comes as Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s cabinet looks into various new climate and environmental policies with the aim of encouraging citizens and residents to live more sustainably. This week, the government has already announced plans to triple the air passenger tax, and introduce new laws for the use of single-use plastics in takeaway packaging.

In addition to a potential meat tax, the new coalition government has already committed to reducing the VAT on fruit and vegetables to zero percent, and increasing tax on non-alcoholic (soft) drinks. State Secretary of Public Health, Welfare and Sport, Maarten van Ooijen, has also announced plans to limit the number of fast-food establishments in the Netherlands.

Staghouwer hopes these various measures will “make a really big step towards bringing sustainable and healthy food production and consumption closer.”

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