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09/07/2022

Plant Based Foods Institute Launched

Organization will provide business solutions to further industry
Bridget Goldschmidt
Managing Editor
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Newly launched by the Plant Based Foods Association, The Plant Based Foods Institute will work with stakeholders to identify, implement and evaluate effective approaches to support a regenerative, plant-based food system.

The Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) has now launched The Plant Based Foods Institute (PBFI), a sister nonprofit organization. Working in alignment with the PBFA’s belief that business can be a vehicle for transitioning the food system, PBFI will work domestically and internationally with stakeholders at every stage of the supply network to identify, implement and evaluate effective approaches to further business and policy best practices in support of a regenerative, plant-based food system.

Representing a diverse range of brands and food system advocates, champions and experts, PBFI board members are Rachel Dreskin, CEO, PBFI and PBFA; Jaime Athos, CEO, The Tofurky Co.; Matt Dunaj, CFO and VP of Operations, Follow Your Heart; Liz Ross, founder and executive director, Rethink Your Food; Audrey Tran Lam, environmental health program manager, Center for Energy and Environmental Education within the University of Northern Iowa; Tyler Whitely, director, Transfarmation Project at Mercy for Animals; and Garrett Broad, associate professor of communication studies, Catalysts for Sustainability program at Rowan University 

While San Francisco-based PBFA focuses on championing, elevating and bolstering its members and the U.S. plant-based food industry through policy and marketplace-based initiatives to expand access to plant-based foods, PBFI’s goal is to cultivate solutions that change government and marketplace policies, agricultural practices and demand toward a regenerative, plant-based food system. Its current initiatives include:

1. The Domestic Sourcing Initiative: Connecting plant-based food companies with domestic supply network partners such as farmers, processors, ingredient suppliers and manufacturers, creating collaborative opportunities for U.S. farmers and rural communities, developing and advancing policies that support domestic production of plant-based ingredients.

2. Implementing strategies to influence U.S. policy in support of a transition to a sustainable plant-based food system through policy efforts like the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the upcoming Farm Bill.

3. Developing industry-standard life cycle assessments to demonstrate the environmental benefits that plant-based foods offer over their animal-based counterparts to influence procurement practices and target setting for large buyers such as retailers and foodservice operators, as a way to meet environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals.

4. Increasing the availability of plant-based foods in institutional and commercial foodservice settings such as schools and hospitals, while supporting the development of a strong distribution pipeline for plant-based foods. 

In addition to these U.S.-focused initiatives, PBFI will address global matters through the collaborative efforts of the International Plant Based Foods Working Group (IPBFWG), a coalition of eight international plant-based food trade associations: PBFA, Plant-Based Foods of Canada, European Alliance for Plant Based Foods, European Plant-based Foods Association, Plant-Based Food Alliance UK, the Plant Based Foods Industry Association (India), the Mexican Association of Vegan Entrepreneurs, and China Plant Based Foods Association.

“Through the work of PBFA and the institute, our goal is to create a world where values and business interests harmonize to create a plant-based food system that respects the dignity and health of all living beings and the planet,” said Dreskin. “Driven by the urgent need for change, enthusiasm for advancing the plant-based foods movement can be felt across the globe. We are an industry united by a fervent mission to elevate and strengthen the ever-growing community of plant-based food companies, and through the joint effort of our two organizations, the guidance of our boards, and collaboration from IPBFWG members, we have the foundation, core values and expertise to drive change at the global level.” 

The formation of PBFI comes just before Plant Based World Expo (PBW), PBFA’s official trade show and North America’s only 100% plant-based event designed exclusively for foodservice and retail professionals, distributors, investors and manufacturers, which is set for Sept. 8-9 at the Javits Center, in New York. Before the trade show, PBFI will host the first in-person summit of IPBFWG members to discuss and strategize the advancement of the global plant-based foods industry. PBFI and PBFA will exhibit jointly at PBW at booth #235.

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