A new poll by global market researcher Ipsos has found that most people in France, Germany and the Netherlands want 0% VAT imposed on climate-friendly foods and a higher price on meat products.

Almost 60% of the French, German and Dutch consumers who were surveyed said they would be in favour of changes to the VAT system which benefited healthier, more sustainable foods and which increased the tax on meat. The same group stated that they would also support farmer subsidies and compensation for lower income families.

Jasmijn de Boo, vice president of ProVeg International, welcomes the findings. “Changing the VAT regime in this way will go a long way towards encouraging people to shift to more planet-friendly, plant-based diets in Europe. The IPCC has said this month that transitioning to more plant-based foods is crucial to preventing further climate chaos, so we urge the EU and member states to act fast to ensure these VAT measures are implemented.”

Ipsos was commissioned to conduct the research by the True Animal Protein Price (TAPP) Coalition, which says that the poll results endorse an amendment which was adopted by the European Parliament in 2021, proposing 0% on foods which benefit public health and the environment, along with a higher rate on foods which have a ‘negative environmental impact’.

TAPP believes a VAT change would set a ‘true price’ for dairy and meat, taking into account greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity loss and healthcare costs.

Changing the VAT regime … will go a long way towards encouraging people to shift to more planet-friendly plant-based diets in Europe

“Currently the external societal costs of the animal-based products on our daily menus are not paid for,” comments Jeroom Remmers, director, TAPP Coalition. “We all know that the European Union can be more progressive than its member states, so the fact that there is broad support in key member states for changing the VAT regime in this way is a clear signal. It’s our firm belief that plenty more member states will follow us on this journey to fair prices.”

On 24 March TAPP delivered a plan to the EU Commission which detailed policy options to help implement the food pricing restructure. TAPP says the restructuring can be achieved by applying a VAT rate of up to 21% on meat, dairy and eggs by 2025. Consumers would, in turn, be ‘compensated’ by a 0% tax on organic food, fruit, vegetables, bread, grains and meat and dairy alternatives, balancing out the cost of a weekly shop.

Independent Dutch research agency CE Delft reviewed the plan and deemed it ‘realistic and feasible’.

“One of the misconceptions about true pricing is that it will make animal-based protein less attainable, especially to lower income groups. This is once again debunked by this research: everybody is still very much able to buy what they fancy. In fact, we are solving an issue that has been around for decades. Healthy food will become more affordable for everyone,” Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, former MEP and TAPP advisory board member, comments.