The conference you must attend? CARE 2022!
July 22, 2022
Across the countries Anima International operates in, we engage in a variety of campaigns and initiatives to help accelerate just food system transformation. We influence industry and institutions in order to make compassion easier for consumers and help change food norms for long lasting positive change. The aim is a resilient and sustainable system where exploiting animals for food becomes obsolete. This post collects highlights from recent months' work.
Supporting businesses in their shift towards more sustainable, plant-based products increases and improves the options available. We have helped a number of companies, providing knowledge on the alternative proteins foodscape, which has resulted in new great-tasting and nutritious plant-based offerings. This helps make it easy for consumers to find delicious and affordable animal-free alternatives, making plant-based the obvious choice.
In Poland, our RoślinnieJemy initiative has long been helping to put alternative proteins in the centre of food system discussions. We contribute knowledge and offer mentoring, for example in a food tech accelerator that breeds some of the most promising plant-based startups in Poland. Since its launch, we have served in Climate Leadership, a program coordinated by the Polish branch of the United Nations Environment Programme. Maciej Otrębski of RoślinnieJemy has contributed knowledge on the large potential in moving to more plant-based food systems.
Among companies we have been consulting for, OneDayMore, a large cereal company, recently launched their plant-based meat line. The company opened a completely new plant-based meat production facility and invested heavily in product promotion. Throughout last year, we provided them with consultations on the product launch strategy.
North Fish, a fish-oriented fast-food chain with around 50 restaurants in shopping malls across Poland, is another new partnership for Roślinniejemy. They are very supportive of plant-based food and plan for this category to constitute a significant percentage of sales within a few years. Chefs for Change ambassador Dominika Targosz is now working on menu proposals with the goal of creating plant-based evergreens – a menu that will be long lasting and highly attractive to mainstream consumers. We have presented the company with the best options in plant-based fish innovation and the launch of the new menu offerings is scheduled for this June.
In terms of marketing, there is a growing body of evidence on how best to present plant-based options in order to maximise their mainstream appeal, which can be taken into account when introducing these product categories. In Denmark we have been working with Q8, with over 100 service stations in the country, to expand and improve their selection of plant-based menu items. So far, we have helped them introduce vegan nuggets, sausage rolls and a burger and they have changed their selection of condiments to almost all vegan. We have advised them towards better-quality products that are still cheap and helped them fine-tune their communication to be more effective at promoting vegan food. Early reports indicate that customers are very pleased with the new options!
In Finland more than 25,000 people took part in our vegan January campaign this year, many big companies supported the campaign, and we collaborated with the country's biggest supermarket chain on building the January plant-based momentum. They had a very visible plant-based theme in January in all of their supermarkets across Finland and the popular international vegan brand Wicked Kitchen was introduced with a large marketing campaign. Related to our yearly January campaign we have also been pleased to see our large database of vegan beginner-friendly recipes we developed for the participants, being used as a reference in the recently updated Finnish national dietary guidelines, that now state that eating vegan should be regarded as an equal choice to other dietary patterns, and plant-based food should be easily available to anyone.
In addition to consulting for companies, and continuously providing data and insights on how to successfully produce and market plant-based offerings, we also publish rankings to show consumers the best examples of responding to the plant-based trend and motivate more companies to introduce plant-based alternatives.
Having published rankings in several countries in the last few years, this spring we published our first ranking of plant-based fast-food chains in Norway. We rated 14 chains in terms of the selection and quality of, as well as communication about, their plant-based offerings. MAX Burgers was the winner in Norway, and have since run a marketing campaign highlighting the award and their many plant-based options. For the chains that did not receive the top award we have provided feedback on what they could do to improve their selection and marketing, which would increase their chance of earning a higher spot next time. This can be something as simple as having the plant-based menu items integrated in the main menu, rather than a separate one. Some of these chains we have since begun collaborations with, helping them implement the recommendations. The publishing of the ranking also resulted in several news stories, focusing on the spread of the plant-based food trend in Norway.
A significant amount of daily meals across society are eaten in public institutions such as schools and universities. Governments and institutions can set a powerful example by making plant-based an easy and delicious choice in these canteens. We work to show institutions’ representatives that diversifying their food offer is the best choice for their guests, and in line with national environmental goals, as well as provide them with the right tools and guidance to make these changes in the kitchens. On an individual level, this gives diners access to more and better plant-based options. On a policy level, these are concrete changes governments can make to speed up the transition to more sustainable practices.
Our French team has long had a strong focus on public canteens: Providing plant-based cooking training for chefs, organising events and preparing sensitization mediums to promote plant-based options, as well as offering general support for canteens. This is what we did in 2021 with the Victor Hugo high school in the city of Lunel. A Green Week test period showed the demand for delicious, healthy and sustainable menus. Since then, chefs have implemented a daily plant-based option for their 650 pupils and the school was awarded the Green Plates label.
In the end of 2021, France launched a petition to make the whole Parisian collective catering more plant-based, which led to the city council deciding to increase the number of vegetarian options in their university canteens. By the end of 2022, 25% of the dishes offered in university restaurants will be vegetarian, by 2024 the number will reach 40%, and by 2026 it will already be 50% of the meals.
The year 2022 got off to a good start for students at the universities of Grenoble and Toulouse. 1,080 students eat regularly in those university restaurants and were introduced to a daily plant-based option during the Green Week we organised. Students argued that plant-based options should be compulsory in every French canteen. We agree! Green Weeks in Grenoble and Toulouse show this goal is reachable as, since then, the proportion of plant-based options offered daily has doubled.
All these developments were covered by the media and we were interviewed by the most well-known radio channel in France, France Inter, to talk about our campaigns.
Leading up to regional elections last year, our Danish team PlanteVækst reached out to a prominent politician, known for a strong environmental agenda, suggesting a collaboration and offering consulting on greener meals in public institutions. Continuing the conversation after the election, we became involved in the municipality’s project to have more sustainable menus across their public canteens. We have now established a close collaboration on the project, with the plan being an effective default-veg setup where diners are nudged towards delicious plant-based options. Greener by Default assisted us with the latest knowledge on creating thoughtful choice architecture around the plant-based options. Together with the municipality we have set some strong goals of a significant reduction in the percentage of animal-based dishes on the menus and a switch from red meat to plant proteins.
We have also assisted with the training of the kitchen personnel. We enlisted the help of our Chefs for Change ambassadors who hosted an inspirational training event on how to cook delicious plant-based dishes. By both prioritising great taste and thoughtful nudging in the canteens we believe the introduction of the new menus will prove very successful and meet the established environmental goals.
Together with journalists we edited and published the historic, first fully plant-based edition of the most important HoReCa magazine in Poland, Food Service, released at the beginning of the year to celebrate Veganuary. This issue was a 10,000-copy compendium of the latest knowledge in plant-based cuisine for the food service industry – available in key press outlets in Poland and for free in smartphone apps. The cover featured the ambassadors of our campaign Chefs for Change. Among many topics covered in the articles, one of our contributions was on the importance of the HoReCa industry catering to the needs of the sports and fitness community, as too often we still encounter plant-based options that are boiled down to low-calorie selections. There was also an excellent, thoroughly-researched text about the ethical significance of the gastro industry’s move away from animal-based foie gras.
Since the early days of our plant-based corporate outreach, we have been fully aware of how important it is to support food industry professionals with relevant data and insights in order to help them see the business potential that plant-based food offers. The Plant-Powered Perspectives conference in Poland was first organised in 2018 and after three years of scaling up its reach we are now using our experience to support new countries and organisations in organising their own industry events.
Last year we supported teams in Czech, Slovakia and Hungary with their plant-based conferences, with all of them being great events. Especially in Hungary, the conference had a large impact and led to the formation of a new initiative called The Vegan Business Circle, whose goal it is to empower all Hungarian plant-based businesses by bringing them together and making the industry stronger than it has ever been through professional, business support, training and planning together.
We are happy to see these developments and offer support based on our learnings. If you would like to connect, come join our Food Fight community where plant-based food activists from around the world share their experiences and help each other. The plant-based mega-trend is growing stronger all the time and worldwide organisations and companies working for a just food system transformation are accomplishing ever greater goals. We believe the coming years will see even greater progress and will continue our work to make compassionate food choices easy and accessible for everyone.