Canteens can help you eat more sustainably. Four out of ten people will change their eating habits at home if they taste new meals at work.

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  Georg Mathiesen

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1.1 million meals are eaten in Norwegian canteens every day. They are places where it is easy to try new dishes. If you have tried canteen dishes, liked them and got the recipes, senior scientist Antje Gonera believes that it is much easier to then prepare them yourself at home.

Nofima has teamed up with Coor’s canteens and food producers Orkla and Hoff to show canteen guests how to eat greener and more sustainably.

The guests: Yes please!

In the first round of tests, more than 5000 guests in 18 different canteens tried 4 new dishes: 2 vegetarian burger products and 2 chicken substitute products made of pea protein. The guests liked all the dishes, and 4 out of 10 said they would change their buying habits if they tried new products in the canteen and liked them. In order to take home inspiration from lunch, guests want the canteens to hand out recipes or talk about the dishes.

The scientists will not only find out whether the canteens can inspire more people to eat plant-based food, but also how and what works best.

“Will there be different results when we change how the dishes are presented, or if we change the name of the dish and don’t use ‘vegetarian’ or ‘vegan’?”, Gonera asks.

New tool

Coor is working on a new training programme on sustainability and plant-based food preparation. Hoff and Orkla are constantly developing new products and will use canteens as test and innovation arenas to increase accuracy in product development. Foodback is creating a digital solution where guests give feedback via a QR code on the table and Æra develops and tests the business model. “If we have canteens, guests and a digital tool, it can also be used for other research. This is a whole business model that does not exist today, built by producers, canteens and the research world”, says Gonera.