Healthy foods: (im)possible marketing?

Vegan meal

In a world where dietary choices profoundly impact both human health and the environment, the urgency to shift towards sustainable and healthy food options has never been clearer. The journey towards a plant-forward diet, as envisioned by the EAT-Lancet Commission, promises not only to improve individual well-being but also to safeguard our planet's future. However, this transition is fraught with challenges—from societal perceptions and economic incentives to the intricate dynamics of food production and consumption.


The team wants to make healthy and sustainable food fashionable by extending the mainstream marketing mix with additional partnership and policy aspects to reshape these foods into trending topics for the upcoming generation. By engaging stakeholders across academia, industry, and policymaking, the project seeks to transform perceptions of plant-based diets from niche to normative, promoting both individual health and environmental sustainability.

Incubator phase

In the initial incubator phase, the project received funding to investigate public awareness and barriers to adopting sustainable food choices, focusing on the protein transition. Findings highlighted the politicization of dietary discussions and the challenges faced by food producers in transitioning to sustainable practices. This phase laid the groundwork for the current project by identifying key knowledge gaps and framing the need for a comprehensive approach integrating marketing, education, and policy interventions.

Marketing mix

The project employs a multidimensional approach utilizing the 4P marketing mix (Product, Price, Place, Promotion) supplemented by social marketing elements (Partnership, Policy, Packaging). This framework informs strategies to enhance consumer acceptance and uptake of sustainable food options while addressing systemic barriers within the food production and distribution sectors.

Planned actions:

  1. Community-Engaged Learning (CEL) Masterclass: Collaborative sessions with high-school students to explore sustainable food choices and co-create educational content for broader dissemination.

  2. Lowlands Festival 2025 Experiment: Implementation of a marketing mix experiment targeting young adults to assess the effectiveness of promotional strategies in influencing dietary choices.

  3. Marketing Campaign Development: Design and implementation of targeted campaigns to reframe perceptions of sustainable and healthy foods among diverse consumer segments, leveraging insights from consumer behavior research.

  4. Professional Education Programs: Workshops and masterclasses for food industry CEOs and policymakers to foster understanding and implementation of sustainable food practices in corporate strategies and public policy.

Potential Impact:

  • Behavioral Change: Increased adoption of sustainable and healthy food choices among diverse demographic groups.
  • Policy Influence: Enhanced awareness and advocacy for supportive policies at local, regional, and national levels.
  • Industry Transformation: Shift towards more sustainable production practices and expanded market opportunities for plant-based products.
  • Educational Advancement: Integration of sustainable food education into formal and informal curricula, fostering lifelong habits of healthy eating and environmental stewardship.


Non UU-partners