In October, the Danish government launched its first-ever national plant-based diet, which includes a strategy for how the Nordic country can transition to a richer plant-based diet and boost the production of plant proteins in the coming years. The base action plan was announced.
From 2017 to 2022, production of protein-rich plant crops doubled in Denmark, creating an economic value of $1.2 billion, but the country still has a long way to go when compared to animal-based production. I am walking.
Although approximately 98% of Denmark’s land area is covered by rural and intermediate areas, with 35,000 farms and 28% of the population living in rural areas, there is enormous potential to promote plant protein production. To do.
This action plan has the intention of strengthening the entire plant-based value chain, supporting Denmark’s huge potential in climate-friendly food and providing inspiration for the rest of the world. Denmark’s Minister of Food, Agriculture, and Fisheries Jacob Jensen told Forbes magazine in Copenhagen: “We are a proud food-producing country and we are also very proud to be a pioneer in this action plan.” He added that he intends to support them. It is about responding to the environmental, economic and health challenges posed by a world in transition and new consumer food preferences.
Government documents highlight measures such as green requirements in public food tenders and the Plant-Based Food Grant, a $195 million fund for plant-based transition available until 2030.
“This is an early plan that brings together a range of initiatives that we have already undertaken and some new initiatives,” Jensen said. explained that they are connected. Eco plan.
This action plan provides a broad understanding of what falls under plant-based foods, including edible fungi, algae, and beneficial microorganisms. With this approach, Denmark’s attention is also focused on easing Europe’s novel food procedures in order to support companies and start-ups seeking to realize products with new ingredients. “The regulations we are currently working with are outdated,” he said, adding that he has already made the calls. As for the modern version of the new food law, “we’re already seeing some investment going elsewhere,” he added.
Why Denmark is at the forefront of plant-based policymaking
The Danish Ministry of Agriculture is currently translating a 40-page plant-based action plan into English in response to the interest of policy makers around the world.
The successful implementation of the action plan is due to the combination of positive elements and true pragmatism within Denmark: “This is a joint effort by all political parties, but also a close cooperation between the public and private sectors,” Jensen said. the minister said.
This decision was not made overnight. With the Agreement on the Green Transformation of Danish Agriculture from 2021, a majority of the Danish parliament decided that an action plan on plant-based foods should be developed.
The minister stressed that this initiative was not driven solely by environmental groups, but represented a unified effort, including food lobbies and farmers’ unions, and said that this collaboration will convince policymakers that this move is strongly needed. He said that he had sent a signal that this was the case.
The measure was adopted unanimously in Parliament, and Minister Jensen said that certainly all political parties could reap a range of potential benefits from introducing the scheme. “We see that the market is growing. In Denmark, we are not only farmers, but also businessmen,” he said. He said.
While the global growth of the plant-based food market has indeed helped some in Parliament recognize the potential to give the Danish economy an advantage in the global competition for plant-based protein production, others in Parliament have Fringe forces are focused on environmental and health benefits.
The plan is based on the Danish Dietary Guidelines and the New Nordic Nutrition Recommendation, published in June 2023, which recalls the need to reduce meat consumption and increase plant protein to achieve improved health across the Nordic population. The aim is also to match both. Danish cuisine does not rely on vegetable protein-rich ingredients, as is the case in southern European countries. “We really need to change our food culture,” says Marie-Louise Boysen-Rendal, director and factory manager of the Tanketanken Fresi organization. – Food subsidies (plant subsidies).
Bojsen Rendal highlighted Denmark’s expertise in proactive approaches and early adoption of innovative strategies to reduce environmental emissions. She leveraged the country’s leadership in wind energy, which has put it at the forefront of renewable energy production. “Some of us have very high ambitions,” she said. She also highlighted the difference between the energy sector, where dependence on energy companies’ budgets drives the energy shift, as opposed to a plant-based transition, which requires measures like plant-based subsidies.
Rune Kristopher Dragsdal, director of the Danish Vegetarian Federation (DVF), said the plan was designed to support the argument that so-called “developed”, “civilized” and rich countries should rely on meat consumption. In refutation, he states: “The action plan comes from a country that relies heavily on animal production because it can show other countries with similar agricultural sectors that it is possible,” he said.
Dragsdal, who helped draft the plan, said the country’s approach is different from that taken by other European countries, such as the Netherlands, which have sparked polarized debates over livestock production and the intensive emissions associated with it. He said it was a clear line. “The aim is to find ways to envision alternatives,” he said, noting that Denmark has wisely chosen to demonstrate the appeal of plant-based food production, rather than focus on the livestock reduction narrative, and to seek funding. He said he has given confidence to the sector through funding and funding. Support policy.
Increased intake of vegetable protein
The Danish Ministry of Agriculture will soon publish the first results of plant-based food subsidies. The primary criteria for the first round of grants, totaling $10 million, focused on demand promotion.
“78% of this year’s grants went to consumption promotion, 22% to supply and 58% to the organic sector. Therefore, in the next round, we will put more money and focus on the supply chain. We plan to use the funds to develop products of higher quality,” Booysen-Rendall said, as the recipients of the grant have not yet been announced.
According to a survey of 7,500 people in 10 European countries carried out by the European Project Smart Protein Project, 51% of European meat eaters claim to be actively reducing their annual meat consumption. A survey carried out by vegetarian organization ProVeg in collaboration with the University of Copenhagen and the University of Ghent also showed that 47% of Danes interviewed said they intended to reduce their meat consumption.
Boysen-Rendall says the most effective way to change consumption habits in a more climate-friendly direction is to reskill canteen cooks and offer a wider range of programs as part of food education. says. We know that eating at home is the main driving force that has made the consumption of organic food possible in Denmark,” said Boysen Rendal.
Cooks will be seen as catalysts to stimulate demand among the population as a whole. “We need to encourage consumption so that farmers can transform, because farmers can’t transform unless consumers buy,” she said.
From 2023 onwards, Denmark’s CAP strategic plan includes eco-schemes aimed at supporting farmers in the transition to plant protein production, but so far Danish farmers have not widely used these subsidies. I haven’t applied. Minister Jensen believes requests for access to these funds will increase as farmers see the efforts the government is making to strengthen the sector.
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