How will policy in Europe affect plant-based?

In many ways, Europe has seen substantial successes in its plant-based industry. A range of European brands have developed meat alternatives, many of which have done well, and have even seen greater success in Europe than in their homeland.

However, there are still obstacles to full adoption of plant-based. One of these is policy: how does the European Union itself help, and hinder, the emergence of plant-based brands?

What are the obstacles to full adoption of plant-based in the EU?

The European Union spends a lot of its budget on agriculture. It’s common agricultural policy (CAP), for example (see boxout), makes up nearly a third of all the money it spends.

But, according to Rafael Pinto, EU policy manager for the European Vegetarian Union, an umbrella organisation for European vegetarian and vegan organisations throughout Europe, this policy favours meat far more than plant-based.

“If you want to start a farm producing pulses, you’re going to see that the support that you get is not quite the same that you get if you wanted to start producing milk or any other dairy product or any other animal product,” he said at ProVeg International’s Smart Protein closing conference in Berlin last month.

This, in his view, distracts from the CAP’s overall goal of being a food and health policy. “We need to make food and health and environmental impact of the common agricultural policy a priority.” The CAP, according to the EU, ‘is about food, the environment and the countryside.’

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)​ is the agricultural policy of the European Union. It implements, among other things, agricultural subsides. According to the EU, it represents 31% of its budget. According to a recent Nature study, over 80% of the CAP supports animal products.