imageWP3: Canteen food and work-place food geographies.

Research questions

  • Where in the institutional supply chain are key decisions made that affect public health and environmental sustainability?
  • What views do consumers have regarding the constrained choices that are available to them in such settings?
  • How do work-place canteens cater for ‘minority’ tastes (such as halal food or meat-free diets)?
  • What is the potential for change towards more sustainable and healthier options (e.g. through procurement strategies or ‘choice editing’)?

WP3 begins from the premise that many consumption ‘choices’ are not made by sovereign individuals but by institutional actors working on behalf of individual consumers.

Constrained food choices are common in work-place canteens and other institutional settings where the range of food options may be severely limited. In such cases, individual customers can exert very limited influence over the choice of ingredients, the sourcing of food or the way it is prepared. While institutional catering may provide opportunities for ‘choice editing’ in support of health and sustainability agendas, it also constrains consumer choice (especially for those with ‘minority’ food preferences).

The research will include a quantitative phase (surveying workplace canteens and other lunchtime opportunities) and a qualitative phase (including lunchtime ‘go-alongs’ and participant observation in a range of work-place canteens), plus interviews with canteen managers and suppliers.