Three Areas of Innovation
Out of this work, the Better Buying Lab and its members have identified three initial areas where big change is possible and innovation is essential. Working together, the Lab’s members are engaged in research, strategy development and field testing new approaches in these areas.
TRANSFORM HOW THE FOOD INDUSTRY COMMUNICATES ABOUT PLANT-BASED FOODS
Terms like “vegetarian,” “vegan” or “healthy” just don’t cut it. In fact, many mainstream consumers find them unsavory.
How do we break with traditional habits of describing plant-based foods and do so in a positive way that appeals to meat- and non-meat eaters alike?
Build a New Lexicon The Better Buying Lab is working to create a lexicon that restaurants, food retailers and cafeterias can use to describe the category of plant-based food, its dishes and their benefits in a way that appeals to mainstream consumers who do not consider themselves vegetarian or vegan. For language to be effective, it must be more than a name. It has to also evoke positive meanings, values and benefits. These descriptors should be adaptable and adoptable by many different brands and outlets. The Lab’s efforts are not a one-off advertising campaign. Instead, we aim to scale the adoption of effective terms throughout a range of outlets.
POPULARIZE DISHES RICH IN PLANTS
“Power Dishes” are ubiquitous across a range of food service outlets, and have strong consumer awareness and wide appeal. Of these commonly available dishes, the Lab’s analysis shows that meat-based options are the norm and plant-based options the exception.
How do we popularize dishes centered around vegetables, legumes and other plants and ensure they break through on more menus?
Develop New Power Dishes The Better Buying Lab is identifying and developing a handful of sustainable, plant-rich dishes that have the potential to become “Power Dishes.” A Power Dish needs to taste great. Consumers also need to know about it, which is why the Lab is coordinating efforts to increase these dishes’ distribution across the food industry and to raise consumer awareness and selection of these dishes.
The Lab isn’t interested in blue-sky innovations. To be successful, we believe we have to build on what’s familiar to people and families. We’re using a range of approaches, from reformulating existing dishes to be completely plant-based to introducing concepts that blend traditionally meat-based foods with more vegetables.
IDENTIFY THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENTAL METRICS, TARGETS AND METHODS
With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, action is accelerating for companies to take up efforts that will limit global warming, halt deforestation and safeguard freshwater supplies. And the data is clear—moving people toward more plant-based diets will make progress toward these important goals.
How can companies and other organizations track environmental benefits of diet shifts over time, and know if shifts are ambitious enough to meet global environmental goals?
Drive Collective Action Toward Common Goals The Better Buying Lab is identifying the key methods and metrics that can help companies measure and monitor over time the environmental impacts of the foods they source and sell to consumers. The Lab is also developing science-based targets that can help the food industry ensure its efforts are ambitious enough to achieve a sustainable future.