NETHERLANDS – Foodvalley, a knowledge-intensive agrifood ecosystem of the Netherlands, is set to lead the transition of the food system to increase the offer of healthier products through a recently received project grant from the Dutch government.

According to Judith van der Horst, innovation lead of food and health at Foodvalley NL, the organization aims at reducing the unhealthy product assortment offerings from the current 80% to 50% by 2023.

In emphasis, Judith noted that changes are needed on both the supply and demand side, urging consumers to continue to ask for healthier products supported by a thriving food industry that drives the development of healthy and tasty products.

“The healthier food community aims to develop partnerships and initiatives that target ecosystem challenges issues that individual stakeholders cannot solve but must be addressed to create a more nutritious food offer,” she said.

Van Der Horst explained that as part of its initiatives, the healthier food community will focus on reformulating existing products and supporting disruptive innovations.

In this project, Foodvalley NL will build partnerships with stakeholders and launch initiatives that lead to viable business models. 

“To develop a healthy food offer, we should continue reformulating on sugar, salt, fat, and fiber levels, but we should also support organizations and start-ups with disruptive new product developments,” she stressed.

“Although there’s a huge market for completely new products developed from scratch If you want to renovate or reformulate products, there’s always the comparison with the product we’re used to. So, the focus is on decreasing sugar and salt levels and increasing fibers.” 

Van Der Horst added that Foodvalley NL is set to ensure pioneers find the right partners in its healthier food community, increasing their access to knowledge, resources, and entrepreneurship programs to accelerate viable business models in these new product developments. 

In the Netherlands, people consume around one-third to one-half of the fruit and vegetable intake dietary guidelines recommend. 

She observes upcoming products in the market that help boost people’s daily produce consumption, such as healthy snacking products based on peas, lentils, or other pulses seasoned with herbs, at lower salt and fat contents and higher protein levels

Meanwhile, the organization is conducting an extensive analysis by interviewing a range of stakeholders to determine which ecosystem challenges companies want to create healthier food products run into.

According to Van Der Horst,  companies often have difficulty scaling, especially for those developing disruptive innovations, as they target entirely new markets and segments.

In its healthier food community, Foodvalley NL will bring companies together and help them connect with other essential players in the ecosystem. 

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