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How to Build a Plant-Based Food System: From Policy Change to Sustainable Agriculture

Imagine a world where plants, not animals, are the foundation of a resilient and sustainable food system that benefits not only humans, but also animals and the planet.

While existing vegan organizations have long worked toward this common goal, there is a new non-profit that is joining the fight to eliminate animals from the world’s food system.The recently launched Plant Based Foods Institute. (PBFI) works with industry leaders and food system experts to advance the transition to plant-based food systems nationally and internationally.

PBFI was launched by the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA), a trade association of over 300 plant-based food companies, to work with the PBFA to create a friendlier, more accessible plant-based food system. achieve a common goal of building.

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For PBFA CEO Rachel Dreskin, the launch of PBFI is the next step in advancing the mission of companies with PBFA membership. “In working with companies,” Dreskin tells her VegNews. base hood system.

While PBFA will continue to focus on expanding the retail footprint of plant-based products and work with partners on effective marketing to drive consumer purchases, PBFI will focus on the bigger picture. Procurement initiatives, market research, and international networks.

PBFI’s Policy Initiative to Transform the Food Industry

The PBFI is currently focusing its policy efforts on two major initiatives: the 2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the 2023 Farm Bill.

Vegan health organizations such as the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine have long called on the US government to update their dietary guidelines. Specifically, it calls for the elimination of dairy products due to the prevalence of lactose intolerance among people of color and its long-term health effects. Long-term consumption of dairy products, such as increased risk of prostate and breast cancer.

PBFI joins the call to update dietary guidelines for Americans scheduled for 2025. The institute, Dreskin, has submitted formal comments calling for the guidelines to adopt a sustainability lens. Therefore, there will be a greater focus on plant-based diets and eating patterns due to the lower environmental impact of vegan foods compared to animal-based foods. counterpart.

“Now is the time for dietary guidelines to include sustainability in their recommendations. [the environment], personal health and nutritional reasons,” says Dreskin. “We need to put more emphasis on plant-based foods and move to a more plant-based diet overall.”

Along with the 2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the PBFI considers the 2023 Farm Bill to be “significant legislation.” [in] change the way we grow food, [in] Improve the nutrition of Americans. Aside from the potential impact on human health, the Farm Bill will also impact the climate, farmers and animals. For these reasons, it is important for the PBFI to focus policy efforts on this bill to promote plant-based food systems. .

Through a combination of formal comment, lobbying, collaboration with other nonprofits, and other means of engagement, PBFI will work on policy initiatives that support the transition to plant-based food systems.

Procurement of raw materials for plant-based foods

The PBFI’s domestic sourcing initiative, along with its work to influence future farm bills, will support domestic plant-based food production by working directly with farmers, plant-based food companies, and supply networks. I am aiming for

The Institute is now working with farmers who have long grown corn and soybeans for animal feed, to help them transition to growing crops in a sustainable and renewable manner that are in high demand in the plant-based food industry. is supporting Not only will this facilitate the transition to a plant-based food system as a whole, but it will also prove beneficial for plant-based food companies that have experienced difficulties due to supply chain shortages and recent inflation.

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“this [pilot program] It is very attractive to member companies within the PBFA,” says Dreskin. “With supply network volatility and inflation so high in recent months, creating a shorter supply network that is more resilient and transparent is very attractive. [our members] For plant foods [development]”

In addition, there are economic benefits for farmers who transition to producing plant-based ingredients that are in high demand. “It is a really exciting opportunity, not just for people, but to look at how to do this in a way that benefits farmers, their lands and rural communities, not only from an environmental but also an economic perspective. [plant-based foods] For our country, not our industry. We can positively position plant-based foods as an opportunity for Americans and American farmers. ”

Are consumers replacing meat and dairy purchases with plant-based products?

Another exciting venture PBFI is working on is consumer research. In partnership with Kroger, the PBFA’s partner at the nation’s largest grocery chain, the PBFI will analyze shopper data to determine whether consumers are actively substituting meat products for plant-based foods or not. Find out if your customers are buying vegan products along with animal-based foods. .

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Impossible Foods

“This subject has yet to be comprehensively studied,” says Dreskin. “By working with him, one of the PBFA’s top retail partners, we are helping millions of households and [determining] their buying patterns. Are they really starting to transition animal products to plant products? [foods]or are plant-based products simply an addition to the shopping list?”

The results of this research will ultimately influence the work of the marketplace conducted by the PBFA. “If we can prove that consumers are actually changing the way they buy, [habits] More and more people are buying plant foods instead of animal foods. This is very useful information for retailers to consider when creating their merchandising strategy,” he explains Dreskin. “If we can demonstrate that a transition is taking place, then increasing the amount of real estate given to plant-based foods would be a compelling case. [which, in turn], reducing the amount of shelf space given to animal products. ”

International plant-based network

Working towards a modern plant-based food system is no small feat. PBFI fully recognizes that there is power in numbers. Shortly after Dreskin assumed his role at the PBFA last year, the CEO began informally connecting with other industry bodies around the world representing companies that make plant-based foods like the PBFA.

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Today, this informal network has become the International Plant-Based Food Working Group (IPBFWG) and boasts eight member associations spanning Canada, India, China, Mexico, the European Union and the United States. “Creating a structure for this group to come together and coordinate the world’s top priorities will be a major focus for the PBFI moving forward,” said Dreskin.

Earlier this month, the IPBFWG held its first international summit as part of the PBFA’s Plant Based World Expo, where an international group identified its top priorities. According to Dreskin, one of these key priorities is labeling legislation.

“We grapple with this quite often, as states introduce restrictions on the labeling of plant-based foods so that they can be clearly identified using common terms such as meat, milk, hamburger, sausage, etc. This is happening all over the world, ”said the CEO. “Today, as an international community, we face proposed labeling bans in Chile, South Africa, France and Turkey.”

Through collaboration with the International Trade Group, PBFI will work on national and international labeling laws, along with other global priorities identified by the IPBFWG.

“There are many leaders in the plant-based industry who fully believe in the kind of change that businesses can drive when there are many alignments around common goals and objectives,” says Dreskin. “To be able to combine these worlds and do it in the way that is now being formalized through the industry body and his PBFI is really exciting.”

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