People around the world are consuming increasing amounts of meat and dairy products. Nutrition-related health risks and pressures on the environment are on the rise. This project aims to identify innovations along the value chains that would reduce the negative impacts of producing and consuming animal-based food. In collaboration with practitioners, the researchers are developing strategies and recommendations that will promote healthy and sustainable eating habits and lead to more creativity and variety on our dinner plates.
All over the world people are consuming increasing amounts of meat and dairy products, a trend that is closely linked to growing affluence. The production of animal-based food requires more soil, water and energy, and it has a greater environmental impact than crop production. In addition, animal products are rich in calories and can lead to obesity and various secondary diseases. Some types of meat are thought to increase the risk of cancer and heart disease. Eating out more often is another global trend. Eating habits in Switzerland strongly reflect these developments: the per capita consumption of meat and dairy products is much higher than the global average. And a rising share of all main meals are not eaten at home.
The research project focuses on the value chains for meat and dairy products: from agricultural production to industrial processing, gastronomy and individual consumption. The key questions are: what innovations could contribute to reducing resource use, environmental impact and health risks along the value chains? Which innovations are most effective? What are the key drivers of innovation? What are the main obstacles and how can they be overcome? The researchers will develop strategies and recommendations to promote innovations for future-oriented diets and food production, and for more creativity and variety on our dinner plates.
In collaboration with practitioners, the researchers will explore two global trends that are important for ecology and health: the increasing consumption of meat and dairy products and more frequent eating out. If per capita resource use through food consumption in Switzerland could be reduced by adopting more ecologically sound production methods and consuming less meat and dairy products, the country could serve as an interesting model of innovation: how increasing affluence, better education, self-reliance and freedom of choice can lead to more environmentally friendly animal products, greater food variety and healthier diets.