The changing climate of food production : exploring consumer behavior and transformation in the food industry
Growing appreciation of the novel challenges of climate change and environmental degradation is among the core drivers of the ongoing transformation in the food industry. In response to the growing costs for society and the environment, the broad reliance on large-scale and industrial methods of food production is called into question. Innovative solutions and approaches are thus required, both to resolve distrust among consumers and facilitate the necessary transition towards more sustainable societies. Hence, this dissertation engages with a number of questions related to transformation in the food industry, highlighting the particular relevance of consumer behavior. Each of the four principal chapters represents a specific application of insights and knowledge gained using an individual-level perspective in order to resolve a number of shortcomings with the transitions literature. In this respect, the dissertation as a whole can be seen to inform the dialogue of what is required for such transitions and establish such discussions on firmer ground. The first chapter develops behavior-informed strategies for climate and sustainability policy by integrating insights of the individual-level determinants of environmentally-relevant behavior. The second chapter then makes use of a historically-informed systems analysis of industrial food production to explain the emergence and structural foundations of existing problems. Pivoting to a potential solution, the third chapter explores how exactly the type of retail format matters for sustainable consumption – using a hypothetical discrete choice experiment with opt-out option. Finally, the fourth chapter constructs a potential role for alternative retail formats as mechanisms for behavioral change by dynamically linking some of their salient features, through conceptual argumentation, to individual differences in the passion and energy of organic consumption.
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