Accelerating Next Food: Stakeholder Recommendations to Drive the Adoption of Alternative Proteins Across Europe

To date, the adoption on a large scale of plant-, insect- or fungi-based protein sources has been slow, calling for a better understanding of key factors at the consumer and broader infrastructural level.

The EU-funded LIKE-A-PRO project is on a mission to accelerate the adoption of alternative proteins by considering how to increase their availability, accessibility and consumption. The project explores this opportunity by supporting the development of new products, understanding consumer acceptance and supporting relevant stakeholders in their efforts to accelerate their adoption.

As part of the project, a series of studies have been conducted to better understand the enablers and barriers to shifting to alternative protein sources, specifically pertaining to consumer acceptance of alternative protein products.

Accordingly, some of the key factors influencing consumer acceptance are the availability and accessibility of alternative protein products in various food environments, including factors such as good marketing and communication frames, attractive pricing or the ability of consumers to replace and cook with the alternative protein ingredients.

Furthermore, perceptions can be crucial enablers, in particular positively perceived nutritional or health value and/or environmental impact, good taste and texture, and positive cultural or social norms.

Food labelling appears to have a positive influence. These factors can act both as enabling or inhibiting factors and can be tied to both the individual and system level.

Based on these insights, the LIKE-A-PRO project team has created summaries for key stakeholders such as industry, policymakers, civil society organisations (CSOs) and academia, including some key recommendations for initial actions from these decision makers:

  • Industry actors (across the value chain) play an important role in developing new protein sources through research and development related to taste, texture and nutritional quality. They are also in the position to create innovative and consumer-centric marketing campaigns, ensure strategic product placement, and use food labelling and certifications to increase consumer trust towards alternative proteins.
  • Policymakers can support the transition through targeted educational campaigns and guidelines, facilitate the production and distribution of alternative protein products, allocate more funding for further research and innovation, and support labelling schemes in the EU.
  • CSOs play a key role in the transition to alternative protein-based diets as gatekeepers between consumers and other market players. Accordingly, they can positively impact both consumer acceptance through, for instance, engagement and awareness-raising activities and then drive impartial research and evidence on the positive effects of alternative protein sources. CSOs are also in the position to engage in advocacy for enabling policies and other market solutions.
  • Academia can invest in research focused on alternative proteins to improve evidence-based information, production methods and quality of alternative protein products. They also play an important role in improving public awareness, for instance through educational programmes, student initiatives, or campus-based food offering.

If you are curious and would like to learn more, please read the entire set of stakeholder summaries in our library.

For more information, please reach out to Arlind Xhelili.