SOUTH KOREA – The South Korean government has unveiled a new initiative to bolster the plant-based food industry, responding to the increasing demand for meat and dairy alternatives in the country.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the initiative includes the establishment of a research centre for alternative foods and support for the export of plant-based products.

The plan also involves expanding the use of domestic agricultural products in the production of plant-based substitutes.

ProVeg International, an organization dedicated to promoting plant-based diets, welcomed South Korea’s initiative, emphasizing the role of governments in promoting the production and consumption of plant-based foods.

Shirley Lu, ProVeg’s managing director in Asia, stated that governments have the power and resources to drive coherent action across society.

“We see it as hugely important that governments take the initiative to produce plans that steer the food system toward supporting the production and consumption of plant-based foods,” she said.

“As plant-based food emits half as much greenhouse gas emissions as animal-based foods, a strategy to promote the production and consumption of plant-based foods is an obvious and necessary step to accelerate the transition to climate-friendly food production,” ProVeg’s Lu added,

According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), approximately 14% of all greenhouse gas emissions originate from meat and dairy production.

Reducing meat consumption and transitioning to plant-based production is considered a long-term solution for decarbonizing food systems.

South Korea’s move is influenced by several factors, including changing consumer preferences, concerns about the health implications of excessive meat consumption, and the influence of younger generations advocating for more plant-based diets.

This decision reflected the global trend of growing interest in plant-based diets and clean-label food products, a trend that has been slower to take root in the Asia-Pacific region.

South Korea’s move comes on the heels of Denmark’s recent action plan for plant-based foods, which focuses on enhancing the production and consumption of plant-based products and has gained international attention.

With South Korea witnessing a shift from traditional meat-centric diets, the government also aims to address public health concerns associated with meat consumption.

Meanwhile, ProVeg has also established an office in Malaysia, aiming to introduce the V-Label, a global certification for vegetarian and vegan products, into the Malaysian market.

The organization is also running a Food Innovation Challenge to encourage the creation of innovative plant-based food products in collaboration with industry partners.

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