Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Consumer perceptions and preferences

15 October 2013

In this study, researchers contrast values and psychological associations and underpinnings of vegetarianism across cultural contexts.  The paper focuses on different perceptions among vegetarians and omnivores with regards to the impact of their daily food choices on the environment and animal welfare, universalistic motives and beliefs that eating meat is polluting. The study analyzes vegetarianism in USA and India and concludes that in USA the primary concerns are universalism, animal and environmental welfare while in India purity, pollution, authority, and tradition are primary concerns.

15 October 2013

This paper explores how far changes in consumers’ diets can lead to reductions in food related GHG emissions. While previous studies have looked at the relative mitigation impact of switching to vegetarian and vegan diets, this paper estimates the contribution that the average UK diet makes to GHG emissions. It does so by combining the GHG emissions from 66 different food categories with self-reported dietary information. The average GHG impact that the authors arrive at is 8.8 kg CO2 eq per person – including both food eaten and the embedded emissions in food wasted (post-purchase).

26 September 2013

FAO published a new report in September 2013 with revised estimates for GHG emissions from livestock. The “Tackling Climate Change Through Livestock:  a global assessment of emissions and mitigation opportunities” report and two accompanying technical reports are long awaited since they include an updated estimate of the livestock sector’s GHG contribution -  putting the figure at a lower 14.5 percent of global human-caused emissions, compared to 18 percent in the previous report from 2006.

17 September 2013

Researchers at the Stockholm Environment Institute in York have built a model that looks at the pressure that UK consumption activities place on biodiversity overseas. The model, funded by  Defra, provides a framework for assessing the links between goods and services consumed in the UK but imported from overseas to potential impacts of their production on biodiversity in their country of origin. The model can be used to explore the impacts of over 200 agricultural products (and many other products of non-agricultural systems, e.g. mining, forestry and fisheries), and can break down consumption impacts resulting from demand from specific product groups.

5 September 2013

An upcoming paper shows that Front-of-pack nutrition labels have little impact on consumer choice in a retail setting. The study: “Effects of nutrition label format and product assortment on the healthfulness of food choice,” examines the choices of 1000 German and Polish consumers.

24 July 2013

The workshop was carried out as part of an Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food project on consumer engagements with food governance. The Oxford Food Governance Group project aims to elucidate the emerging forms, roles, and uses of food-related information and communication technologies (ICT) at the consumer level, and how they might shape the EU food governance landscape in years to come.

24 June 2013

This study presents different ways of presenting information on food calories and assesses how useful consumers find them. It showed participants of 3 groups the calorie content of a ham sandwich, displaying this information in different formats as shown in the diagram below.

10 June 2013

The UK’s Daily Mail reports that the UK supermarket Tesco will monitor the healthiness of its customers’ food purchases using Clubcard data and then use that data to suggest ways in which people could make healthier choices. Although plans are still in the early stages options considered so far include offering vouchers for healthier products and promoting a better diet via suggested recipes. 

13 May 2013

This is an interesting study which tests preferences for sugar, fat, salt and umami (savoury-ness) among children in a range of European countries. It finds that children’s liking for these tastes varies by country, suggesting that culture has a very strong part to play in influencing food preferences. While hardly a major revelation in itself, what I take from this study is that the very common assumptions we see about the ‘inevitability’ of growth in demand for high fat and high sugar foods, or for meat products, are open to challenge.

7 May 2013

A report by the UK consumer group Which? calls for a new approach to how food issues are handled to give consumer interests much greater priority, based on:

  • Strong Government leadership and a clear food strategy;
  • Effective consumer engagement on food issues;
25 March 2013

This paper addresses the relationship between meat eating and climate change focusing on motivational explanations of environmentally-relevant consumer behavior. Based on a sample of 1083 Dutch consumers, it examines their responses to the idea that they can make a big difference to nature and climate protection by choosing one or more meals without meat every week.

25 March 2013

Consumers influence climate change through their consumption patterns and their support or dismissal of climate mitigation policy measures. Both climate-friendly actions and policy support comprise a broad range of options, which vary in manifold ways and, therefore, might be influenced by different factors.

25 February 2013

This paper has been widely reported – and also misinterpreted.  It has been publicised as a study which suggests that healthier diets (which seems to be conflated with one containing lower levels of meat and dairy) do not necessarily lead to reduced GHG emissions; however, a closer reading of the conclusions reveals otherwise.