No Bread, Please, Just Pass the Butter as Fat Demand to Soar

  • Per-capita consumption to rise 23%, Credit Suisse report says
  • Changing tastes have `distinct implications for investors'

Consumers are increasingly eschewing bread in favor of butter and red meat as carbohydrates take a back seat to fat and protein, a worldwide shift underpinned by a changing medical consensus that promises to transform the food industry.

Global demand for fat will rise 43 percent by 2030 with per-capita consumption jumping almost a quarter, according to a report released Thursday by the Credit Suisse Research Institute. Demand is seen gaining 23 percent for red meat and falling 8.3 percent for carbohydrates.

“Natural unprocessed fats are healthy and are integral to transforming our society into one that focuses on developing and maintaining healthy individuals," said Stefano Natella, global head of equity research at Credit Suisse and one of the report’s authors. “Consumers are at a turning point, and this has distinct implications for investors.”

Fat has been at the center of a medical debate for at least three decades, with traditional advice in the U.S. linking it to obesity and heart disease. But more recent research has thrown doubt on that connection and has supported consumers as they buy more of the things once considered harmful.

Cholesterol isn’t likely to be a cause of heart disease and the link between saturated fat and cardiovascular risk has never been proven, according to the Credit Suisse report, for which the authors say they evaluated more than 400 medical research papers and books from academics and industry experts. In the U.S., the leading culprits for obesity are now thought probably to be vegetable oils and carbs.

Fat consumption will eventually account for 31 percent calorie intake by 2030, from 26 percent now, according to the report.

Egg Demand

The trend, epitomized by Protein-rich Paleo diets, can also be seen in the global intake of butter, which is growing as much as 4 percent each year. U.S. whole-milk sales are 11 percent higher while skimmed milk is down 14 percent, the report shows.

Even eggs, laden with cholesterol, are back in fashion -- consumption of the organic variety is up 21 percent from last year. Each person in the world will eat the equivalent of five eggs a week by 2030, according to the report.

Other winners over the next 15 years will be dairy, red meat and fish, while losers will include sugar. Claims that foods are healthier or of natural origin will be key to long-term success, the report said.

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