The Future of Food 2: Eating Socially and Sourcing Sustainably

A symposium hosted by Coventry University

June 10th 2020

Current levels of global consumption and production are unsustainable and require transformative change to meet the emission reductions required to avoid catastrophic climate change (Alfredsson et al., 2018). Food remains a topic at the centre of this sustainable transition with its future critical to the livelihood and wellbeing of both people and planet. Current levels of food waste are abhorrent. 10 million tonnes of food is thrown away yearly in the UK representing 3% of greenhouse gas emissions (WRAP, 2019, 2011). Households remain responsible for the majority of food wasted with an estimated 20 million slices of bread,  4 million potatoes and 3 million glasses worth of milk thrown away daily (WRAP, 2019). Yet at the same time the number of people who are food insecure is growing (ukssd, 2018). Food bank use in the UK is rising with increasing recipients from families experiencing ‘in work’ poverty (The Trussell Trust, 2019). The UK is presently behind its commitment to end all forms of malnutrition by 2025 as both food insecurity and obesity is rising (ukssd, 2018). The future of food requires solutions to the paradoxical food system where food insecurity exists alongside food wastage.

This crisis is unfolding within a complex and improvident food system. Despite the increasing efficiency of appliances and new resource saving technologies, affluent consumerist lifestyles have offset gains made in reducing the impact of consumption (Alfredsson et al., 2018; Lorek and Fuchs, 2013). Questions have been raised over the validity consumer choice and nudging as policy responses to food problems (Foden et al., 2017; Moloney and Strengers, 2014; Lehner, Mont and Heiskanen, 2016). Recent work has raised alarms of the dangers to food supply resulting from the improper management and vulnerability of natural resources (Ingram et al., 2016). Growing calls from consumers and campaign groups has seen the start of progress by retailers toward more sustainable sourcing (Chkanikove and Mont, 2012; WRAP, 2014) but there is still a significant way to go. Prompt progress is required to ensure that targets like UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 of halving global food waste at retail and consumer level by 2030 remains in achievable.

If these issues are ever be eradicated consumers, businesses, charities, and government will all need to play a part in creating an alternative food future. The growing demand for alternative food provision has spawned many initiatives which reimagine how food is commoditised and distributed through supply chains. The convivial aspects of eating socially are key. Recent trends have seen a revaluing of excess food (Mourad, 2016). Supper clubs, disco soups and surplus food retailing have brought together communities and enabled innovative business models to remove associations of waste and repurpose food as a collaborative tool to enable sustainability in its many forms. More circular models of living and eating are also growing traction in their adoption by businesses and governments (Bek and Lim, 2018). Understanding the potential of these solutions and navigating their effective dissemination remains a priority for the future of food.

Following the success of the inaugural symposium last year, the Future of Food 2 symposium invites stakeholders across business and society to present, discuss and enable collaborations. Presentations will be given by leading thinkers from companies, charities and grassroots movements to prompt valuable discussion at this one day event. We invite all participants to attend a social eating network event directly following the symposium more information can be found here.

We welcome submission of abstracts (1 page) from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds on topics including but not limited to:

– Community and convivial practices of social eating and management of food surplus through grassroots initiatives, new business models and innovation

– The risks associated with sustainable sourcing of food in both alternative and conventional supply chains

– New forms of food practice such as consumer to consumer food sharing and collaboration in towns, cities and rural areas as part of building sustainable food systems

– The changing nature of consumers’ engagement and market trends in the area of food

– New digital technology for deploying food surpluses

– Challenges of, and solutions to, food insecurity and food poverty

– Practical applications of the circular economy principles to food supply chains such as best practices in managing food surplus

– Ensuring values of sustainability in the operations management of supply chain

Submission process and deadline:

All articles will be subjected to blind peer review. The deadline for the submission of papers (1 page only) is Friday the 10th of April. Authors should submit abstracts by email to


The Future of Food 2 Symposium will be hosted in Coventry by the Centre for Business in Society at Coventry University. The symposium is organised by staff and PhD students within the Sustainable Consumption and Production Research Cluster, more information about their work can be found here –


Registration for the symposium will open in February. More information will be posted here in the coming weeks.


A nominal fee will be charged to attend the symposium. A discounted rate will be offered to PhD students. More information will be posted here in the coming weeks.


Bek, D. and Lim, M. (2018) The Circular Economy: The Circular Economy a key approach for addressing strategic challenges in supply chains. Social Business. 8 (1) 90-102

Chkanikova, O. and Mont, O. (2015) ‘Corporate Supply Chain Responsibility: Drivers and Barriers for Sustainable Food Retailing’. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management 22 (2), 65–82

Foden, M., Browne, A., Evans, D., Sharp, L., and Watson, M. (2017) Food Waste and Kitchen Practices : Implications for Policy and Intervention [online] University of Sheffield, UK. available from < doi:>

Ingram, J., Dyball, R., Howden, M., Vermeulen, S., Ganett, T., Redlingshöfer, B., Guilbert, S., and Porter, J. (2016) ‘Food Security, Food Systems, and Environmental Change’. Solutions. (May-June), 63–73.

Lehner, M., Mont, O., and Heiskanen, E. (2016) ‘Nudging – A Promising Tool for Sustainable Consumption Behaviour?’ Journal of Cleaner Production. 134, 166–177.

Lorek, S. and Fuchs, D. (2013) ‘Strong Sustainable Consumption Governance – Precondition for a Degrowth Path?’ Journal of Cleaner Production [online] 38, 36–43.

Moloney, S. and Strengers, Y. (2014) ‘“Going Green”?: The Limitations of Behaviour Change Programmes as a Policy Response to Escalating Resource Consumption’. Environmental Policy and Governance 24 (2), 94–107

Mourad, M. (2016) ‘Recycling, Recovering and Preventing “Food Waste”: Competing Solutions for Food Systems Sustainability in the United States and France’. Journal of Cleaner Production. 126, 461–477.

The Trussell Trust (2019) State of Hunger: A study of poverty and food insecurity in the UK. [online] available from <>

Ukssd (2018) Measuring up: How the UK is performing on the UN sustainable Development Goals. [online] Available from <>

WRAP (2019) Food Surplus and Waste in the UK [online] available from <>

WRAP (2014) Resource Efficient and Sustainable Buying in Grocery Supply Chains [online] available from < report_Resource efficient and sustainable buying in grocery supply chains.pdf>

WRAP (2011) New report highlights water and carbon impact of wasted food. [online] available from <>