Appetite journal Special Issue: Surplus to requirements? The Cultural, Social, and Psychological Drivers of Food Waste

The Journal Appetite currently has a Special Issue themed around surplus food and food waste that may be of interest:

See further information here –

Surplus to requirements?

The Cultural, Social, and Psychological Drivers of Food Waste

Guest Editors:
Dr John Harvey, Dr Judy Muthuri, Professor Sally Hibbert, Marsha Smith

Aims and scope of the Special Issue:
Food waste is a pernicious social problem. In the UK for instance, the largest contribution to food waste comes from homes: 8.3 million tonnes per year, which costs consumers £12 billion and contributes to approximately 3% of UK greenhouse gas emissions (Quested et al., 2011).
Yet despite the enormous amount of food binned daily by business and society alike food poverty remains a chronic issue. Charitable foodbank use in the UK has risen rapidly over the past two decades (Lansley & Mack 2015). The Trussell Trust alone distributed 1,182,954 instances of emergency 3-day food supplies between April 2016 and March 2017 (Trussell Trust, 2017). This staggering increase is not merely from people experiencing financial hardship due to a lack of employment. The growing number of people experiencing ‘in-work’ poverty has increased foodbank use as salaries fail to cover basic expenditure.

If food waste is ever to 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 (re)distributed through supply chains. This reimagining is apparent in supply chains with excessive food waste, particularly supermarkets with surpluses which can be repurposed. For instance, the UK organisation FareShare is responsible for collecting and distributing food surpluses to a wide variety of charity organisations such as ‘pay what you feel’ and ‘social eating’ cafes (Baron et al., 2018). Peer-to-peer redistribution of food surpluses through ‘sharing economy’ services have also grown rapidly in the past few years (Harvey et al., 2019).

To be clear though, many of these initiatives are designed to fight food waste, not poverty. And there are a growing number of researchers (Caplan, 2017; Caraher and Furey, 2017) who have rightly criticised the idea that food surplus sharing solutions should have to carry the burden of food insecurity. Food insecurity is a consequence of political choices. There is a real danger that emergency food redistribution services become normalised despite being a `band-aid to more deep-rooted problems of poverty’ (Caraher and Furey, 2017). At present these arguments remain at least partly conjectural due to the lack of available statistical evidence examining the relation between food surplus redistribution and food insecurity generally. This issue is just one of many barriers to equitable redistribution of food surpluses..

There are many cultural, social, and psychological drivers which lead to food being wasted. This SI will focus on the challenges and opportunities for tackling the causes.
We welcome submissions on topics including, but not limited to:

Sharing Economy

  • New patterns of consumer behaviour including peer-to-peer sharing of food surpluses. 
  • New digital technology for redeploying food surpluses throughout the supply chain. 
  • Networks and collaborations for sustainable food systems implemented at town and city level
  • The ethical consequences of the sharing economy and collaborative consumption of food

Consumer decision-making

  • How is food waste linked to contemporary lifestyles, socialisation and consumers’ subjective relationships with food?
  • When do consumers designate household food to be waste?
  • How do marketplace actors shape consumption-related practices that contribute to household food waste?
  • What are the ethics of household food surplus and waste?
  • International or cross-cultural comparisons on avoiding, reducing and managing food surplus and waste

Social Innovation and Community Food Initiatives

  • Empirical and conceptual development around the ethical considerations of the uses of food surpluses, and the social and environmental impacts of food wastage.
  • New conceptualisations of social business models, networks and impact measurement. Clearer understandings of how food surpluses enable or constrain community wellbeing. 
  • New conceptualisations for models of participation, behaviour-change, and affective consumer and business decision-making.
  • How is attention to, and involvement with, service-users and their ideas, skills, habits and desires creating new entry points for transformative uses of food surpluses?

Corporate Social Responsibility

  • The translation of food waste regulation and standards in organisations;Stakeholder accountability, engagement and collaborative partnership approaches around food waste and food surplus;
  • Tensions and paradoxes of corporate practices and behaviours that on one hand contribute to increased food waste and on the other hand donating surplus food;
  • The measurement of the social and environmental impacts of food waste practices by firms;
  • The ethics and morality of corporate food waste and food surplus interventions.

Submission instructions
The Journal’s submission system will be open for submissions to our Special issue from 30th October 2019. When submitting your manuscript please select the article type “VSI: Food Waste”. Please submit your manuscript before 30th April 2020.

All submissions deemed suitable to be sent for peer review will be reviewed by at least two independent reviewers. Please ensure you read the Guide for Authors before writing your manuscript. The Guide for Authors and link to submit your manuscript is available on the journal’s homepage at:
Inquiries, including questions about appropriate topics, may be sent electronically to Dr John Harvey (