Drivers and Barriers to Accelerating the Plant-Based Dairy Alternatives Innovation System – The Case of the Netherlands
Vossen, Fleur van der
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Increasing pressures on current practices related to dairy production and consumption have urged societies to explore more sustainable alternatives. In this respect, plant-based alternatives to dairy (PBD) products have emerged as a more environmentally responsible option. In the Netherlands, the market for plant-based dairy alternatives has developed as an upcoming niche over the past decades. With a dairy industry that is embedded in its economy and institutions, this country makes for an interesting case to study the dynamics between the upcoming niche and the established regime. The framework of technological innovation systems (TIS) has been applied as the theoretical fundament to analyze this PBD transition. With incorporating developments of both niche and regime processes, this study aims to investigate the diffusion of PBD in the Netherlands, as well as the interactions of established incumbents and their involvements in the PBD innovation system. In doing so, this research has identified several barriers that may hamper the acceleration of this innovation system, which have been linked to the theory of systemic problems. Accordingly, this study has conducted a qualitative event- history analysis from 2006-2022, alongside qualitative interviews with stakeholders of the PBD innovation system. Findings indicate several systemic barriers to PBD acceleration. First, this study identified hard institutional failures that result in misalignment in governmental strategies and visions versus existing policies and instruments for PBD development. Second, capacity and network failures were recognized in disparities of knowledge and information flows between industry actors and knowledge institutes. Finally, technological aspects of nutritional parity of PBD products were identified as the most hampering factor in larger consumer uptake, combining system problems of capacity, presence, and quality failures.