Joyce Parslow, of Canada Beef, said there was a "culinary de-skilling" going on in children. "At school level, home economics has been stripped out of the curriculum by courses that are thought to give better career advancement."
As a result, she told the congress in Beijing, only 31% of younger people felt confident in the kitchen. "Limited food skills mean limited ability to buy it," she said. "People are in a meat muddle – they go to the meat counter and they see a sea of red, and when they get it home, they don’t know what to do with it. People would buy more meat if they knew what to do with it."
She said the growing focus on obesity was tied in with this problem. She said that two-thirds of the US population were obese and the three leading causes of death were dietary-related. She added that chefs like Jamie Oliver were campaigning against this, and putting the problems down to people eating out too much and not knowing how to cook.
"Sixty-two per cent of Canadians’ dietary energy was coming from heavily processed foods, and there’s a move away from processed foods into whole foods. The silver lining is that meat does belong on the table – there’s a great opportunity to fit into this landscape. There’s a wave that’s building and it’s time to get on board with it."
She said that studies have shown that a meat-centred plate will increase variety and vegetable intake and she called on the global meat industry to work together to educate consumers, to "influence the influencers" and focus on meat’s role within a meal, not just on meat itself, and improve the link between meat, food and agriculture.