Environmental issues are shaping the way young consumers' make decisions about what they eat - but does this mean millennials are a threat to New Zealand's meat industry?

Rabobank Global Sector Strategist Justin Sherrard spoke to The Country's Jamie Mackay about the influence of climate change-conscious millennials on the demand for sheep and beef meat.

Sherrard says that eating less meat is not the most effective way to go about saving the planet.

"The best way to mitigate climate change is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and greenhouse gas emissions mainly come from the energy sector, not from agriculture. So I think the best thing millennials can do is understand where emissions come from."


If consumers should be focusing on how they use energy, Mackay wonders why agriculture is continually "the whipping boy" in New Zealand when it comes to the environment.

New Zealand's agriculture sector represents a large proportion of greenhouse gas emissions, which Sherrard says is unusual in developed economies.

"As New Zealand looks towards the middle of the century and wants to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions ... then it's very difficult for New Zealand to make that progress without addressing greenhouse gas emissions from the agriculture sector and that's why farmers end up ... looking like the whipping boy."

Sherrard says millennials are still eating meat, but they are thinking differently about the meat choices they are making. This includes looking for alternatives to meat, such as plant-based proteins.

Also in today's interview: Justin Sherrard looks into the threat of alternative proteins to the industry and the prospects for the sheep meat market.

Listen below: