The region revolutionising the Dutch diet

biggest consumer, a report, StartLife, Protein Cluster, 14.5%, FrieslandCampina, Valess, Upfield, new food science centre, Ojah, Vegetarian Butcher, bought out market leader Vivera, Plukon, Bolscher, 100,000 hectares

Photo: Floris Heuer via The World Food Center, Ede

Ethical and environmental concerns are changing what the Dutch put on their plates, but where this foodtech transformation is occurring is somewhat surprising.

Livestock farms with patchwork pastures encircle the village of Holten in Overijssel, but in a small industrial park within, steering Dutch diets in a different direction, is the headquarters of Vivera, one of Europe’s largest producers of vegan alternatives to meat.


The evolution of the Dutch diet is no clearer than in the east of the country, where intensive meat farming has been serving up protein-rich produce to consumers for decades, earning the nation the dubious distinction as the largest meat exporter in the EU. But the farms now have new neighbours, as innovators of plant-based alternatives flock to Gelderland and Overijssel, a meat and dairy producing region with an unlikely new moniker: Vegan Valley.

Per capita, the Netherlands is Europe’s biggest consumer of plant-based meat, with favourites such as kibbeling and bitterballen now available flesh-free. According to a report published by Rabobank in June, sales of meat and dairy substitutes in Dutch supermarkets have doubled since 2017 and are expected to grow by 15% annually over the next 15 years.

biggest consumer, a report, StartLife, Protein Cluster, 14.5%, FrieslandCampina, Valess, Upfield, new food science centre, Ojah, Vegetarian Butcher, bought out market leader Vivera, Plukon, Bolscher, 100,000 hectares

The Vivera factory in Holten. Photo: Vivera

Look east

Agrotech’s migration east has much to do with Wageningen University, an internationally renowned centre of agricultural research and a magnet for innovators, employers and investors at the cutting edge of the food production industry.

The approach is overwhelmingly collaborative. Foodtech accelerator StartLife is based in Wageningen, as is the Protein Cluster, a global platform for plant-based food solutions and a knowledge hub for all those in the field.

‘We like to share and work together with each other,’ says Kees Pieters, project leader for the protein transition in Gelderland, which is helping to reduce the environmental impact of animal agriculture (14.5% of all greenhouse gases) by facilitating the switch to vegetable-based protein. ‘It’s a part of the [Dutch] culture, and [so is] always keeping ahead of developments, rather than protecting your intellectual property.’

biggest consumer, a report, StartLife, Protein Cluster, 14.5%, FrieslandCampina, Valess, Upfield, new food science centre, Ojah, Vegetarian Butcher, bought out market leader Vivera, Plukon, Bolscher, 100,000 hectares

An artist’s impression of ‘The Hub’ at the World Food Center, the world’s first food-science consumer experience centre which will become part of Gelderland’s World Food Center in 2023. Credit: World Food Center

Corporate interest

Big corporates are attracted to the region, too. Despite the name, dairy firm FrieslandCampina, who include meat substitute brand Valess in their portfolio, moved their research and development centre to Wageningen in 2010, while Upfield, a Unilever spin-off producing vegetable-based fats, is due to open a €50m new food science centre there later this year.

Consumer acceptance and the involvement of multinationals has sped up the transition to meat-free proteins, says Frank Giezen, CEO of Ojah, a producer of soy-based plant meat, headquartered in Ochten. Founded by a team of born and bred Gelderlanders, Ojah has been supplying fast food joints and well-known brands such as the Vegetarian Butcher since 2009. The company has since grown 50-100% each year, with a turnover of €30m.

biggest consumer, a report, StartLife, Protein Cluster, 14.5%, FrieslandCampina, Valess, Upfield, new food science centre, Ojah, Vegetarian Butcher, bought out market leader Vivera, Plukon, Bolscher, 100,000 hectares

Ojah uses extrusion methods to create a meaty texture. Photo: Ojah

Meaty investment

‘What’s really striking, and that wasn’t the case ten years ago, is you see all the big food companies like McDonald’s all opening up [to plant meat],’ says Giezen. ‘People think that it’s quite normal that you always have a plant version of each product you can buy.’ Giezen expects the trend to accelerate, eventually overtaking meat. ‘We see a bright future for the meat alternative business,’ he says.

Investors are fast buying into that future; and as their market share declines, even the meat industry is eager to get a bite of the cherry. Earlier this year, Brazilian meat company JBS bought out market leader Vivera, cashing in on the competition. Poultry giant Plukon (headquartered in Wezep), and Bolscher, an Enschede-based meat processing company, have both launched vegetarian products in recent years to improve their carbon profile and tap into a lucrative market that threatens to eat into their meat profits.

biggest consumer, a report, StartLife, Protein Cluster, 14.5%, FrieslandCampina, Valess, Upfield, new food science centre, Ojah, Vegetarian Butcher, bought out market leader Vivera, Plukon, Bolscher, 100,000 hectares

Frank Giezen (centre) and team at the Food Ingredients Fair in 2019. Photo: Ojah


Profits and climate targets are driving change in the east, often working hand in hand, as meat farmers introduce green products to restore their reputations and claw back some cash during an ongoing epidemic of devastating factory fires, suffocations and reported animal rights abuses.

As for consumers and policy makers, it’s global warming which has hit home most, says Kees Pieters. ‘We all know that meat and dairy is not good for a sustainable food system and it’s so inefficient,’ he says, pointing to the space, time and resources needed to cultivate feed for livestock, rather than feeding crops directly to the consumer. ‘Some people say it’s about animal welfare, but I do not hear that very much,’ he says.

biggest consumer, a report, StartLife, Protein Cluster, 14.5%, FrieslandCampina, Valess, Upfield, new food science centre, Ojah, Vegetarian Butcher, bought out market leader Vivera, Plukon, Bolscher, 100,000 hectares

Vivera products at the supermarket. Photo: Vivera

Less is more

To reduce the Netherlands’ reliance on imports and support the transition towards plant-sourced protein, the ministry of agriculture wants − by 2030 − to quintuple to 100,000 hectares the land given to protein-rich crops, such as soy, lupin and faba.

But, says Pieters, self-sufficiency in the Netherlands is still a long way off. ‘If you grow all protein crops, you will still have 10% of the amount we need … It needs a lot innovation to increase the yield.’ Underwater algae cultivation and factory-grown fungal mycoprotein offer fast-growing alternatives to beans and peas and minimise land use, but more consumers still need to be convinced.

The interim solution may be harder to swallow – for omnivores and vegetarians alike. ‘The first step is to eat less,’ says Pieters. ‘That will be better than vegan alternatives.’

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related


Remembering Bruce Gaston Thailand's master musician recalls life of fellow maestro, mentor and friend

Fong Nam ensemble There are many people who claim to personify the “origin story” of contemporary music in Thailand, but when the actual history is finally written it will be ... Read more »

Winning paintings on display at 'Portrait Prize'

Bua Pan by Manop Momin, left, and Learning In Covid Situation by Tanawat Muratatunyaluk. photo courtesy of River City Bangkok Two winning paintings from the “RCB Portrait Prize 2021” competition ... Read more »

Two events to help fans get to know BTS members

BTS In The Soop 2. photos courtesy of In The Soop TV YouTube Channel Besides their catchy and meaningful songs, the world's most popular boy band BTS has built a ... Read more »

Celebrity moms with their kids, from Salma Hayek to Angelina Jolie

When they aren't making movies or performing on stage for thousands, these stars are just moms. Check out these celebrity mamas with their babies, big and small. Starting with Salma Hayek, ... Read more »

It's not Kanye, it's Ye, after judge approves name change

The 44-year-old rapper had petitioned a court to make Ye his full name, with no middle or last name. LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) – Rapper Kanye West has won legal approval ... Read more »

Covid-19 Home Recovery Survival Guide: Nourishing foods to eat

Thinking of what to eat while on home recovery from Covid-19? Here are some recipes for immunity-boosting foods. Korean-style ginseng chicken soup Here is a nourishing chicken soup to soothe ... Read more »

Covid-19 Home Recovery Survival Guide: How to disinfect your room and other precautions

SINGAPORE – Home recovery is now the default care management model for people infected with Covid-19 who have mild or no symptoms. While those on the Home Recovery Programme (HRP) ... Read more »

Covid-19 Home Recovery Survival Guide: What exercises to do

SINGAPORE – Being isolated in a room while recovering from Covid-19 may cause patients to become inactive. But fitness trainers say people should exercise to boost their energy. Ms Krystle ... Read more »

Google Pixel Fold release date rumors, price, news and leaks

The Google Pixel 6 is about to launch and there’s an outside chance that the Pixel Fold could land alongside it. The event starts at 10am PT / 1pm ET ... Read more »

West Virginia's reliance on coal is getting more expensive, and Joe Manchin's constituents are footing the bill

During the winter months in West Virginia, Felisha Chase pays more for her electricity than she does for her home. © Maddie McGarvey/CNN Felisha Chase sits outside of her home ... Read more »

An agile gecko found in India named after the legendary Jackie Chan

Martial arts legend Jackie Chan may not be aware of this yet but some of his biggest fans are a group of adoring herpetologists from India. These scientists have named ... Read more »

Hong Kong's TVB to air first gay dating show

HONG KONG – In a first for Hong Kong television history, TVB will be airing its first gay dating show in early November. Hong Kong actor Vinci Wong, who is ... Read more »

More cancer patients getting vaccinated, says National Cancer Centre Singapore

To address the concerns of cancer patients, a free webinar will be held on Oct 23. SINGAPORE – More cancer patients are taking up Covid-19 vaccination, according to National Cancer ... Read more »

Netflix raises price of S'pore subscription plans by $1 to $2

A basic plan will go from $11.98 to $12.98 and a standard plan will go from $15.98 to $17.48. SINGAPORE – Streaming giant Netflix has raised its prices in Singapore. ... Read more »

Hot Bods: Getting a bounce from muay thai and mini trampoline exercises

(From left) Entrepreneur Kimberly Thea Kwek, 33, and accounts executive Sean Nicholas Sutiono, 25. SINGAPORE – Meet this week’s hot bods, entrepreneur Kimberly Thea Kwek, 33, and accounts executive Sean ... Read more »

Patient-turned-employee among 25 inspiring seniors showcased in St Luke's Hospital ebook

Mr Tan Ann Seng (right) is one of 25 inspiring older people featured in Being Silver, a free e-book launched by St Luke’s Hospital on Oct 15, 2021. SINGAPORE – ... Read more »

Todd Haynes channels love for The Velvet Underground into film on the cult band

The Velvet Underground was highly influential on succeeding generations of musicians. SINGAPORE – There is a famous saying about cult New York group The Velvet Underground – not many people ... Read more »

Coming together as one family Pop legend John Nuvo is part of a global collaborative project to help children and communities affected by Covid-19

The music video for One Human. Photos courtesy of Splash Interactive As we are all going through difficult times, nothing is better than giving. And if you're a musician, that ... Read more »

Aspiring actors sought for Italian comedy workshop in Bangkok

Attendees will learn about an Italian theatrical form characterised by masked types. photo courtesy of Ekkolo Theatre Theatre as an intellectual exercise and a strong emotional experience will be explored ... Read more »

Journey to the cloud in virtual summit

photo courtesy of Sangfor Technologies Sangfor Technologies is holding “Sangfor EPIC 2021”, a global virtual summit to exchange knowledge about digital transformation and cutting-edge security, on Thursday at 1.30pm. This ... Read more »

Earwig And The Witch joins Ghibli's Netflix roster

Earwig And The Witch. Earwig And The Witch is to join the line-up of Studio Ghibli films available on Netflix. The animated feature will premiere on Nov 18, the streaming ... Read more »

Look extra with Elemis

The Elemis counter at Paragon department store. Ten years ago Elemis opened its first spa in Southeast Asia at the St. Regis Bangkok. It was only last year that the ... Read more »

Teeming with talent Two young artists explain their award-winning pieces and dreams after bagging top finishes in a long-running competition

Swimming In Her Dreams by Ladakorn Pungbubpha. Photo: Charit Pusiri Held under the theme “Dream”, The 10th White Elephant Art Award showcased artwork reflecting the fantasy and ambitions of creative ... Read more »

NBA projects $10 billion in revenue as audiences return after Covid, but TV viewership is a big question

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks to the media prior to the game of the Milwaukee Bucks against the Phoenix Suns in Game One of the 2021 NBA Finals on July ... Read more »

Disney delays Doctor Strange, Black Panther sequels in 2022 schedule shuffle

The move showed that Covid-19 continues to roil film plans. LOS ANGELES (BLOOMBERG) – Walt Disney delayed several movies, including Marvel features with Doctor Strange and Thor, and pulled others ... Read more »

American billionaires added $2.1 trillion to their fortunes during the pandemic

© Britta Pedersen / POOL / AFP via Getty Images Tesla CEO Elon Musk Britta Pedersen / POOL / AFP via Getty Images American billionaires saw their fortunes grow by ... Read more »

Fans object to K-pop girl group Twice endorsing whitening products

SEOUL – K-pop girl group Twice were named the ambassadors of Indonesian beauty brand Scarlett Whitening last week, but not everyone ishappy about it. There have been calls worldwide, not ... Read more »

Zhang Jie continues concert with bleeding hand after fall from lift on stage

SUZHOU – Chinese singer Jason Zhang Jie did not let a profusely bleeding hand and fractured back stop him from performing at his concert in Suzhou on Saturday (Oct 16). ... Read more »

Shop and earn up to 4X instant rewards with this enhanced loyalty programme

VivoCity’s newly enhanced loyalty programme lets you earn attractive deals, shopping vouchers and parking perks by simply linking your VivoRewards+ account to DBS PayLah! PHOTO: VIVOCITY Who doesn’t love a ... Read more »

Revealed: more than 120,000 US sites feared to handle harmful PFAS ‘forever' chemicals

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified more than 120,000 locations around the US where people may be exposed to a class of toxic “forever chemicals” associated with various ... Read more »

'Halloween Kills' does just that at N.America box office

This file photo from September 8, 2021 shows actress Jamie Lee Curtis at an out-of-competition screening of ‘Halloween Kills’ at the Venice Film Festival in Italy LOS ANGELES: It's that ... Read more »

Self pick-ups or dine-in ordering: How the Starbucks mobile app elevates your coffee-drinking experience

At the heart of the Starbucks Experience is consumer-centric innovation. PHOTO: STARBUCKS SINGAPORE How would life be in a post-pandemic world? Our work meetings continue to be held virtually, and ... Read more »

Electric dreams From a daily commuter car to a weekend track warrior, the fully electric Porsche Taycan EV is primed to fulfil your every need

With as many as 300 units of the Porsche Taycan EV sold in Thailand since its launch last January, it's clear that the selling point of full-electric vehicles is not ... Read more »

Standout racers

Svartpilen. SVARTPILEN Husqvarna has launched two mid-size street models — Vitpillen 401 and Svartpilen 401. The design is not new, but they are now officially available and recently launched at ... Read more »

New trailer offers first look at Robert Pattinson as Batman

The trailer reveals a bullet-proof Robert Pattinson in the titular role, with Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman. LOS ANGELES – One of the most anticipated movies delayed by Covid-19, The Batman ... Read more »

Namewee and Kimberley Chen blocked on Weibo after releasing satirical duet

Namewee (left) and Kimberley Chen released the Mandarin ballad Fragile, which touched on sensitive topics such as censorship, Covid-19 and the Uighurs. TAIPEI – China’s social media platform Weibo has ... Read more »

Tough as nails Artist Pichai Pongsasaovapark's exhibition shines light on the stressful and dangerous conditions people in agriculture are exposed to every day due to rampant capitalism

A Disproportionate Burden #22, #23 and #24 was made using charcoal, acrylic and oil on canvas. SAC Gallery A painting — A Disproportionate Burden #21, #22, #23 and #24 — ... Read more »

More meditating, less talking please

Whenever there are reports of Buddhist monks misbehaving or violating the monastic code of conduct, we often hear comments like “They are causing a decay to the religion” and “They ... Read more »

Engaged couples invited to compete for wedding prize

photo courtesy of Eazy FM 105.5 Eazy FM 105.5 is bringing back the famous “Eazy Running Of The Brides”, offering soon-to-be brides and grooms a chance to win a free ... Read more »

CentralWorld hosting art shows

Nass-Pichthaya’s interactive art features bright tones and unique lines. photo courtesy of RANANORN CentralWorld is no longer only a world-class food destination as it has turned Groove Gallery Walk into ... Read more »
On you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic