Study for Greenpeace: The true cost of meat

Pork and beef production is resource-intensive. In 2020, we took a look at the hidden costs involved on behalf of the environmental organisation Greenpeace.

The analysis revealed that overall, the annual external costs of German beef and pork consumption amount to 5.91 billion euros. Pork consumption accounts for almost three quarters of these costs.

If production were completely organic, these costs could be reduced to 3.81 billion euros.

Cattle in Argentina
Greenpeace says: "Those who consume meat pay only a fraction of the true costs - to the detriment of the environment and the climate".
Contents of the study

In this True Cost Accounting study, we took into account external costs in the areas of climate, water, soil and biodiversity. These aspects were chosen because they enable a fair comparison within the holistic view of production costs.

Our approach in True Cost Accounting (TCA) is that lower production costs should not be at the expense of the general public, future generations or the environment. We also illustrate the positive effects of agricultural production, which extend beyond the production of food. For the Greenpeace study. we illustrated these benefits in terms of humus build-up and carbon sequestration in the soil.

Limitations of the study

The data, models and monetisation approaches are not yet sufficient for all the important aspects. This includes animal welfare, a holistic view of biodiversity loss and externalities in human capital.

Greenpeace has published further details on the study and the complete results on its website.

More on True Cost Accounting
Responsible for this project was
Benjamin Kayatz
Impact Assessment Specialist