Plant-based food consumption on a positive path

Anna Bak Jäpelt, from Tænketanken Frej, an organization focusing on    sustainability in Danish food production, takes us through insights and perspectives on the growth of plant-based consumption.

Written by KMC
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The consumption of plant-based food is growing. In 2022/23, KMC replaced 34,773 tons of animal ingredients – an increase of about seven percent compared to the previous year. However, factors such as culture, habits, and wealth significantly influence the rate of consumption increase and the reasons behind it.

The big question is, of course, how the spread of plant-based foods fares in a year with high inflation. According to Anna Bak Jäpelt, Sustainability Manager and Project Manager at the Danish think tank Frej, there is a continuous steady development:

Potato-based ingredients replacing animal ingredients (in 1,000 tons)


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– It’s certainly not slowing down. But it could definitely go faster. The 2015 Paris Agreement secures progress because many companies increasingly see it as a sensible investment, especially with climate and biodiversity in mind. These are the two absolute drivers in promoting this development.

In Denmark, several canteens, for example, have stopped serving beef after Denmark’s Green Think Tank Concito published their latest report showing Denmark’s global consumption emissions. And this, according to Anna Bak Jäpelt, affects the entire consumer chain:

– It also trickles down to the individual consumer who buys food in that canteen. At the same time, it shows that professional kitchens have a lot to say and that their demand affects the supply, she says.

More flexitarians

Generally, consumers’ attitudes towards ’green meals’ have changed significantly. A survey from COOP shows that ’climate’ has overtaken ’health’ as the most important reason for Danes to choose to eat less meat.

This is reflected in the fact that we are seeing a significant increase in flexitarians among Danes and in the West in general. In 2017, 12% of 18–34-year-olds said they follow a flexitarian lifestyle, and today it is up to a third within the same group who call themselves flexitarian. 



KMC replaced 34,773 tons of animal ingredients in 22/23. This is an increase of just over seven percent compared to the previous year. 

Economically, significant growth has been predicted for plantbased diets despite the fact that COVID- 19 and inflation have slowed down the development. In a report from Credit Suisse, the potential size of the global plant-based food market has been calculated. By 2030, the market is expected to grow to a value of 143 billion USD. This figure will rise tenfold to 14 trillion USD by 2050.

– Plant-based diets are not just a trend; they’re a megatrend. More and more plant-based products are finding their way onto supermarket shelves, says Anna Bak Jäpelt.

Plant-based convenience products are gaining popularity

Plant-based replacement and convenience products are increasingly occupying shelf space in supermarkets. These replacement products are primarily made of extruded proteins with similar properties to animal products. However, it’s not just vegetarians and vegans who are choosing these products, explains Anna Bak Jäpelt:

– Plant-based convenience products are a way to encourage people considering a flexitarian diet to try it, as it resembles the diet they are already used to, and it doesn’t require much change. 

Every third dinner for an average Dane is prepared in 15 minutes, so replacement products are popular because they fit into meals we already know and don’t require much preparation time.

Companies must lead the way

Looking ahead at plant-based foods, Anna Bak Jäpelt offers some specific suggestions for increasing the presence of plant-based foods on shelves and in Danish homes:

– First, we need to ensure that plant-based foods are integrated into public nutrition services; in hospitals, daycares, and canteens, as well as in private kitchens and canteens. This also includes extensive retraining of professional food staff.

Large production companies also have a significant role to play as they have the means to invest in the right machinery and facilities. This way, they can guide individual farmers and show how they can be part of future plant-based production.

– Additionally, supermarkets and retail should make an effort. One approach is to avoid special offers on animal products and place climate-friendly products in prominent positions or alongside animal products, so consumers do not have to search for them in stores. This makes it easier for consumers to choose plant-based options, she says.

Reasons for Danes’ reduction of meat

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