Outside-in and bottom-up: Using sustainability transitions to understand the development phases of mainstreaming plant-based in the food sector in a meat and dairy focused economy

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Abstract

Humanity needs food system sustainability transitions to align future food demand with the planetary boundaries. This requires stakeholders and organisations to react to each other to change their position, strategies and practices. On the basis of niche-regime interactions in sustainability transitions, we explore the case of Denmark's plant-based food business sector development through 27 company case and expert interviews. We identify four development phases and a sequence in which the different environments of society, users, business, and policy contributed to the diffusion and mainstreaming of ‘plant-based’ in food. We find that the development is characterized by an outside-in and bottom-up direction, meaning that the original trigger came from the international level as well as the consumer demand. Businesses see their key internal success factors in the interplay of their organizational set-up, their product and technology, and their strategic choices. The plant-based market is characterized by changes in terms of increasing competition, a diversification of motives among the users, and marketing communication moving away from ‘vegan/vegetarian’ and towards appealing to the mainstream, flexitarian consumer. Results highlight the importance of change and collaboration among all environments, and the crucial role of the international level as a trigger for national developments.
Original languageEnglish
Article number122906
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Volume197
Number of pages11
ISSN0040-1625
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

Keywords

  • Sustainability transitions
  • consumer behavior
  • Food systems
  • Plant-based diets
  • case studies
  • global policy
  • Case studies
  • Consumer behaviour
  • Global policy

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