In order to reach the sustainability goals in Agenda 2030, we need to change our food habits. The production of animal proteins places a huge burden on the environment, and we will increasingly need to switch to plant-based proteins.
At present, knowledge about plant-based proteins, their climate impact and health benefits, is limited—something that the research center PAN Sweden, in a project coordinated by Örebro University, wants to change. The interdisciplinary research project—a collaboration between other institutes of higher education, companies and public bodies—aims to generate evidence-based knowledge about plant-based proteins, so that in the near future consumer food choices will be both healthy and sustainable for the planet.
What is unique about this project is that PAN Sweden will study the entire chain from food production to human health and wellbeing, something that has never been done before on this scale. How are proteins affected by the various production processes? What makes people choose plant-based proteins and what gives them great flavor and texture? How do different individuals break the proteins down in the gut and what are the health benefits? There are many questions, and hopefully there will soon also be many answers.
To get closer to the answers, the research project aims to investigate consumer behavior in several different environments, such as school canteens, senior lunches and workplace restaurants. For Coor, who aims to offer sustainable restaurant services, it is natural to want to make a contribution, Ann-Charlott Sjöqvist, Change Manager Sustainability at Coor Food & Beverage in Sweden explains.
“The project is in line with our sustainability work, where we want to highlight and support plant-based products. It is also positive that we will eventually get the chance to test the research at our customers’ premises, and clear evidence of our proactive approach,” she continues.
Coor’s participation mainly relates to contributing data on consumer behavior in workplace restaurants.
“We all exhibit different behaviors when deciding where to eat depending on the situation, environment and time of day. How do people think about and choose a restaurant in the workplace, for example? We will be analyzing these behaviors, which are highly relevant to us.
How do you feel about the research project?
“I am very excited to find out more about all the interesting insights. Coor is an innovative company that is always eager to participate in research projects and collaborations in the areas of health and wellbeing. A lot of exciting things are happening in Sweden in innovation and foods, and this is critical to our participation in projects like PAN Sweden—we want to drive developments in our own operations but also make a positive contribution to the sector as a whole.
The first step is to identify what types of plant-based proteins we should focus on from a health perspective, and which should be used to prepare tasty food.
“My hope is that Coor will become an expert in great health-beneficial plant-based proteins and sustainable restaurants, and that the analysis of consumer behavior in company restaurants will generate some useful insights,” Ann-Charlott explains.
When asked what the biggest challenges are, Ann-Charlott answers quickly and with conviction:
“Time—without a doubt. I would like to have all this in place tomorrow, and we want to change people’s behavior straight away. Our goal is to halve the consumption of red meat by 2025, and initiatives such as PAN Sweden will strengthen us on this journey.
When do you think we will see plant-based proteins more extensively in Coor’s restaurants?
“I really believe that we will be able to roll this out on a broader front, and that Coor Food & Beverage will know which plant-based proteins are both healthy and climate positive by 2023. We are well on the way, we are in the arena, and I am really looking forward to this.