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From Awareness to Engagement: Young Consumers in a Sustainable Food System

Alternative title: Fra bevisst til engasjert: Unge forbrukere i et bærekraftig matsystem

Awarded: NOK 12.0 mill.

Project Number:


Project Period:

2023 - 2027

Funding received from:

FATE will follow young consumers and school canteens transitioning to more sustainable operations, to study how best to facilitate the transition and promote sustainability engagement. Our food systems need a transformation and young consumers can play a vital role in bringing about changes to the public at large. At the verge of their own transition, they have long-term impact on the planet with an adult lifetime of food consumption ahead of them. Young adults are also more prone to make dietary changes. Thus, FATE seeks to understand how best to boost young consumers’ awareness of sustainable food consumption and their engagement with sustainable food systems. FATE will approach this challenge by studying how different mindsets operate in the context of sustainability, and further on investigate the best means to shift mindsets by introducing co-created interventions to accompany the canteens’ transitions. FATE commences with the makings of a sustainability mindset, by comparing and combining existing knowledge into a measure that can identify distinct consumer profiles. FATE continues by transforming this knowledge into action in a living lab, where representatives for the students, schools, canteens, and local producers will experiment with co-creative activities. The lab will involve users directly in testing ideas for the canteen transitions, designing student-directed interventions that promote engagement with sustainability, and examining novel opportunities for businesses and canteens alike. FATE also takes a long-term perspective by investigating factors that could shift young consumers’ mindsets to adopt more sustainable and healthy diets in the long run. FATE's overall ambition is to contribute to food system changes, which will be met by an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the food and sensory sciences, agroecology, psychology, innovation, and economics, as well as representatives from the public sector and the local food supply chain.

FATE aims to promote engagement with sustainable food systems by identifying the predominating sustainability mindsets of young consumers and translating these into adaptable interventions and concrete changes in the food supply chain. Young consumers play an integral role in catalysing change for the broader public, not only due to their long-term impact and online presence, but also because many in this age group are more open to dietary changes than older adults. FATE therefore seeks to understand what leads certain young individuals to engage in sustainable and healthy food consumption, and what could influence others to do the same. FATE will maintain an outlook on the food system through the young consumers’ perspectives. These perspectives are formed by the contextual surroundings, and they can be altered through the emerging possibilities for other participants in the food supply chain to aid them on the way towards more sustainable food habits. FATE tackles the challenge from multiple angles in an interdisciplinary collaboration. As its starting point, the project will assess distinctions in young consumers’ understanding of sustainability and the food system in Norway, by studying how mindsets differ. This insight will be utilised in the facilitation of a living lab centred on Viken county school canteens, with their political decision to be at the green forefront by promoting healthy and sustainable products to the students. The living lab will experiment with the co-creation of knowledge, activities, and innovations to enhance knowledge on sustainability and test ideas for interventions that may lead to shifts in behaviour and mindsets. The interventions will be launched in school canteens already set to reform their food offer, selected schools will also go through an education program. Two different approaches to longitudinal testing will follow the impact of these interventions, alongside the students’ progression to adult, independent lives.

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