Accelerating the transition to plant-based proteins – NWO grant for research

Public interest in plant-based alternatives for meat and dairy has been increasing rapidly because of their positive environmental impact and potential health benefits.¹ Despite this change, Dutch economists warn that with the current rate it can take up to the 50s of this century for the plant-based market to outgrow that of meat and dairy.

To understand and accelerate the transition towards environmental-friendly plant-based substitutes, the Dutch research institute NWO has awarded a research grant of about 1 million euros to a consortium of universities and public and private partners, including Danone Research & Innovation.

“In this consortium, we will link perspectives from psychology, consumer science, sustainable development, and industrial design; a powerful combination to help accelerate the transition to plant-based proteins – good for our planet and good for our health”

Dr. Vanessa Martens (Senior manager User Experience Design at Danone Research & Innovation)

To understand behaviour and behavioural change that can accelerate the transition to plant-based proteins, the project focuses on four topics:
– motives of consumers to make a dietary shift, and implications for reframing strategies
– how meat and dairy alternatives are perceived by consumers and what the consequences are for adoption
– a study of the complete innovation system and analysis of what elements of the system are driving and hampering the protein shift to take place
– the effects of various frames on strategies and system interventions employed to accelerate the transition

The project is funded under the NWO Transitions and Behaviour program. This program focuses on research into behaviour and behavioural change that makes transitions possible and accelerates these.

For further insights into the project, see this interview with the study leader Prof. Marko Hekkert of the Utrecht University .

1. Role of plant protein in nutrition, wellness, and health. RT Ahnen et al. Nutr Reviews. 2019: 77 (11): 735–747