Seven Countries Leading the Way in Plant-Based Food Policies in 2024
January 8, 2024
In a world where consumers are increasingly conscious of the environmental and health impact of their dietary choices, governments around the globe are finally starting to step up to the plate and leading the charge towards a more sustainable, plant-powered future. In this brief overview of some of the latest national developments, we spotlight eight countries making significant strides in plant-based food policies as we start the new year.
Denmark: a visionary plant-powered strategy
In October, the Danish government published its Action Plan for Plant-Based Foods, aiming to increase the production and consumption of climate-friendly food by providing support in both the public and private sectors, as well as in R&D. The plan focuses on increasing consumption in public-sector kitchens, educating professionals, export activities, production and processing, agricultural raw materials, and research and development. A milestone in food-system transformation, hopefully, other EU countries will be emboldened by Denmark to publish their own strategies, especially since the country will preside over the European Council in 2025.
The Netherlands: a balanced approach and a €60 Million Boost
The Netherlands has topped an international ranking for having the most balanced dietary guidelines, suggesting strong support in the country for sustainable healthy food choices and nutrition information that covers plant-based diets.
The Netherlands is also a pioneer in cultivated meat and related policy: in our analysis of Europe’s cultivated meat policies, the country ranked first, thanks largely to its network of cellular-agriculture startups and researchers. In 2022, the government announced it would award €60 million to support the creation of a national cellular-agriculture ecosystem, as part of the country’s National Growth Fund.
Singapore: cultivating change with cultivated meat
Singapore made history by becoming the first country to take cultivated meat to market, thus fostering further innovation and redefining the landscape of sustainable protein sources. In December 2020, the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) approved the sale of Californian startup Eat Just’s bite-sized chicken product made with cultivated meat. The SFA was the first regulatory authority in the world to approve a commercially available cultivated meat product.
The UK: £12 million investment in Sustainable Protein Hub
The UK is at the forefront of sustainable protein solutions with its £12-million Sustainable Protein Hub, which aims to foster innovation and resilience in the food industry. The hub is set to run for seven years to research innovations and scale up cultivated meat production. Additionally, the UK’s national innovation agency, Innovate UK, has launched a competition to invest up to £6.5 million in innovation projects that support the development of the plant-based protein sector. The objective is to meet global consumer demands for alternative proteins and to create export opportunities for the technologies, products, and services developed. The UK has also unveiled an ambitious plan which includes a boost for cell-based proteins: the government plans to invest £2bn in innovative engineering biology which could be a beacon of optimism for cellular agriculture.
The US: cultivated-meat approval and nationwide advocacy
The US has also been setting an example when it comes to plant-forward policies and making room for cultivated products. By approving two cultivated meat products this year, the US made waves in the alternative-protein sector. At both federal and state levels, advocacy for plant-based diets is reshaping the nation’s approach to food and sustainability. From New York to Illinois to California, state-level policies and legislation are being introduced to promote healthier diets, ensure greater inclusivity, and reduce carbon emissions. Action is also being taken at a federal level, with a bill introduced to Congress that requires schools to give children the option of fortified soya milk.
Germany: groundbreaking €38-million investment in alternative proteins
In a significant move towards sustainable agriculture, the German government has earmarked €38 million in its 2024 budget for promoting plant-based, precision-fermented, and cell-cultivated proteins. By providing such a crucial sum for a plant-based transformation, the German government is demonstrating how important sustainability is for the future. This announcement came at the perfect time, as the results of a government survey showed only 20% of Germans now eat meat daily, and other data published by Germany’s Federal Information Centre for Agriculture (BZL) shows a record decline in meat consumption.
The United Arab Emirates: Global Commitment at COP28
Catering at the 2023 UN climate summit was two-thirds plant-based – a first in 28 years of the annual global climate event. This COP had a powerful focus on food, with the first-ever Food, Agriculture and Water Day and the publication of Roadmap to 1.5°C by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation). This COP will be regarded as a turning point for our approach to tackling emissions from agriculture. Earlier last year, the first plant-based meat factory was opened in the UAE, and the opening was attended by the UAE Minister for Climate Change and Environment who emphasised the importance of investing in plant-based meat.