Submitted Successfully!
To reward your contribution, here is a gift for you: A free trial for our video production service.
Thank you for your contribution! You can also upload a video entry or images related to this topic.
Version Summary Created by Modification Content Size Created at Operation
1 -- 1478 2023-06-15 10:39:42 |
2 layout Meta information modification 1478 2023-06-15 10:42:17 |

Video Upload Options

Do you have a full video?


Are you sure to Delete?
If you have any further questions, please contact Encyclopedia Editorial Office.
Kristia, K.; Kovács, S.; Bács, Z.; Rabbi, M.F. Sustainable Food Consumption. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 15 April 2024).
Kristia K, Kovács S, Bács Z, Rabbi MF. Sustainable Food Consumption. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed April 15, 2024.
Kristia, Kristia, Sándor Kovács, Zoltán Bács, Mohammad Fazle Rabbi. "Sustainable Food Consumption" Encyclopedia, (accessed April 15, 2024).
Kristia, K., Kovács, S., Bács, Z., & Rabbi, M.F. (2023, June 15). Sustainable Food Consumption. In Encyclopedia.
Kristia, Kristia, et al. "Sustainable Food Consumption." Encyclopedia. Web. 15 June, 2023.
Sustainable Food Consumption

The major goal of this study is to trace the emergence of SFC-related research across time, using a thematic map and a list of corresponding publications. In addition, this study aims to determine the author who has made the most significant contribution to this particular field. This study provides a comprehensive bibliometric analysis of the historical development and current trends in sustainable food consumption research, examining 2265 articles published between 1990 and 2023. Using the bibliometrics package of R Studio software version 4.2.1 and its Biblioshiny package, articles from the Scopus and Web of Science databases are examined. In the field of sustainable food consumption, we identify five distinct research phases: initial stagnation, infant growth, post-economic crisis, expanding phase and COVID-19 and post-pandemic. While research on broader sustainability topics can be traced back to the early 20th century, a very limited number of articles on sustainable food consumption was published in the 1990s. However, the number of publications increased incrementally over time, with a notable uptick in interest around 2015, and the subject was still being discussed in 2022. The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic marked the beginning of the most recent phase of research, which analyzed the consumption patterns of consumers before and after the pandemic. Our study highlights key authors, documents and sources related to sustainable food consumption. The United States, Italy and the United Kingdom emerged as the most active contributors to the research on sustainable food consumption and were additionally the countries with the largest global market shares for organic products. Major sub-themes including organic food, food waste, sustainable development and food security, together with consumer behavior and organic products appeared as being the most researched sub-themes of recent times. The results of this study suggest that more research is related to sustainable food consumption in countries with a low organic food market share. In addition, the investigation of actual data on food waste, carbon footprints and greenhouse gas emissions resulting from food production and consumption is essential to gain holistic insights.

sustainable food consumption consumer behavior bibliometric analysis Biblioshiny

1. Introduction

The first official discussion of sustainable consumption took place at the 1994 Oslo Symposium. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) defines sustainable consumption as the use of products or services to meet the demand of consumers and enhance quality of life while reducing the use of unrenewable resources, hazardous substances and waste generated during consumption [1][2]. From the producers’ point of view, large corporations and widely recognized brands began to market their goods and services as “environmentally friendly” [3][4]. On the other hand, it was shown that a growing number of people prefer to choose environmentally friendly products and are inclined to spend more, although these products were made mainly from recycled materials [5][6][7][8]. The application of sustainable consumption was carried out in various sectors, including the energy sector [9][10], household [11][12], electricity [13], tourism [14][15] and food sector [16][17][18][19]. Achieving sustainable food consumption (SFC) is one of the most important goals to strive for and has additionally received much attention from various parties, following the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 [20][21].
In recent years, SFC-related research has garnered the attention of academics and policymakers. The literature review or bibliometric research on the SFC topic that has been conducted thus far has centered on SFC organic food consumption [22], contemporary issues and policies [18], determinants of sustainable eating out behavior [23], determinants of sustainable food consumption among students [24], trends of research on food security [25] and edible insect consumption [26]. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, there remains a limited number of bibliometric studies that have attempted to provide general insights that encompass the wide field of SFC. In previous similar studies, a literature review with in-depth analysis characteristics and content analysis of a small number of research articles was employed [18][22][23][24][25][26]. This leads the authors to believe that it is crucial to chart the evolution of the SFC topic, especially through bibliometric research.

2. Sustainable Food Consumption

Sustainable food consumption is the process of meeting consumer needs related to food, starting from acquiring, using and disposing of products while minimizing the negative environmental impacts that can arise from the consumption process [27][28]. Sustainable consumption behavior is often known as ecological behavior [29][30], environmentally friendly [31], green consumption [32][33][34][35], responsible consumption [36][37], conscious behavior [38][39] and mindful consumption behavior [40][41][42]. Vegetarian and vegan lifestyles are additionally commonly associated with sustainable food consumption, as plant-based diets are suggested instead of meat consumption to mitigate climate change-related issues [43][44]. However, many consumers find it difficult to abstain from eating meat altogether; consequently, a new group known as “flexitarians” has emerged who consume less meat [45][46]. The customer segment that engages in sustainable food consumption practices is concerned with the consumption process, the food production process, the use of eco-friendly raw materials and the disposal process following consumption [47]. Choosing products with a fair-trade label or certification is one way to ensure that the social aspects of the food production process are conducted ethically, and thus social sustainability is achieved [28][48]. A brand that has been certified as fair-trade has met the standards of not discriminating against the genders, races or religions of its employees, not employing children and paying suppliers and other business stakeholders decently, as well as having prices that are typically higher than the average market price [48][49].
Sustainable food consumption has multiple implications, including the consumption of organic food [50][51][52][53][54][55][56][57][58], the reduction of meat consumption and the choice of a plant-based diet [5][59][60], the purchase of locally grown and seasonal food [19] and the disposal aspects of food consumption [61][62]. Although some parts of society in some developed countries already had a positive attitude towards sustainable consumption, this study area remained a less studied segment, especially in developing countries [2][28]. This is mainly because organic food products and those produced in an environmentally friendly manner are usually sold at a premium price. The high price of organic food is certainly not just a pricing strategy to display a premium, exclusive image and provide a sense of security for consumers. However, the production costs of organic products are much higher than the agriculture of regular vegetables and fruits. Organic food producers must ensure that the entire value chain involved in the production process is safe for the environment and consumer health by avoiding harmful chemicals, synthetic hormones, radiation and genetic engineering [63][64].
Due to the high prices, the relatively unappealing appearance of organic products, the fact that organic products spoil faster than chemically produced foods and their limited availability in the market, some consumers are less interested in buying organic food [45][46][47][48]. This phenomenon is worsened by current high global inflation and skyrocketing food and energy prices that reduce consumer purchasing power substantially. As a result, not many people can easily alter their behavior to become more responsible. Consumers, who are willing to consistently perform SFC and pay more attention to other ethical aspects of their lives, are typically well-educated, knowledgeable and have a higher amount of disposable income [49][50][51][52]. Decisions on daily food consumption are often made, especially by people who are young and do not have health problems. Low-involvement decision-making is heavily influenced by emotional appeal, convenience, taste, buying ability, hedonism motivation and habit, which is difficult to change [28][53].

3. Historical Development of Sustainable Food Consumption

The field of SFC has developed substantially over time, resulting in a vast and diverse body of literature. The emergence of SFC as a research theme can be traced back to the latter half of the 20th century, which predominantly focused on exploring the concept’s infancy [54]. During this phase, SFC was acknowledged as a crucial factor in environmental sustainability [55], in spite of the relatively limited research. As environmental issues gained more attention, so did the interest in SFC. Following the adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, there was a significant increase in this interest [56][57]. In the subsequent years, the focus shifted from merely comprehending SFC to investigating methods for promoting sustainable consumption practices. The examination of the interaction between various SFC domains, such as food waste [58], organic foods [59] and sustainable development [60], has additionally been emphasized. Recent research has investigated the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on sustainable food consumption [61][62].

4. Bibliometric Studies of Sustainable Food Consumption

Some literature has discussed sustainable consumption using bibliometric methods; however, more literature is needed to employ bibliometrics to discuss the food aspects especially. One study used bibliometric and network analysis techniques to monitor the evolution of sustainable consumption research from 1995 to 2014, identifying key authors and co-authorship networks and emphasizing the topics studied [2]. By analyzing publications from 1974 to 2019, bibliometric studies of sustainable consumption in general have been conducted to identify trends in publications, prominent journals, productive countries and psychosocial factor-related keywords [63]. In addition, a study employing a systematic review methodology identifies the significant facets, theories, methodologies, predictors, outcomes and mediators/moderators of sustainable consumption using a publication period of only 10 years, from 2000 to 2020 [64]. A literature review that discusses food as a part of sustainable consumption has been conducted to answer specific aspects, such as segments and consumer behavior regarding SFC consumers [65].


  1. Fuchs, D.A.; Lorek, S. Sustainable Consumption Governance: A History of Promises and Failures. J. Consum. Policy 2005, 28, 261–288.
  2. Liu, Y.; Qu, Y.; Lei, Z.; Jia, H. Understanding the Evolution of Sustainable Consumption Research. Sustain. Dev. 2017, 25, 414–430.
  3. Zhang, M.; The Cong, P.; Sanyal, S.; Suksatan, W.; Maneengam, A.; Murtaza, N. Insights into Rising Environmental Concern: Prompt Corporate Social Responsibility to Mediate Green Marketing Perspective. Econ. Res.-Ekon. Istraz. 2022, 35, 5097–5113.
  4. Rajput, N.; Sharma, U.; Kaur, B.; Rani, P.; Tongkachok, K.; Dornadula, V.H.R. Current Global Green Marketing Standard: Changing Market and Company Branding. Int. J. Syst. Assur. Eng. Manag. 2022, 13, 727–735.
  5. Katare, B.; Yim, H.; Byrne, A.; Wang, H.H.; Wetzstein, M. Consumer Willingness to Pay for Environmentally Sustainable Meat and a Plant-Based Meat Substitute. Appl. Econ. Perspect. Policy 2022, 45, 145–163.
  6. Kovacs, I.; Keresztes, E.R. Perceived Consumer Effectiveness and Willingness to Pay for Credence Product Attributes of Sustainable Foods. Sustainability 2022, 14, 4338.
  7. Roberts Baylor, J.A.; Versi, U. Green Consumers in the 1990s: And Implications for Advertising. J. Bus. Res. 1996, 36, 217–231.
  8. Vandermerwe, S.; Olljf, M.D. Customers Drive Corporations Green. Long Range Plan. 1990, 23, 10–16.
  9. Press, M.; Arnould, E.J. Constraints on Sustainable Energy Consumption: Market System and Public Policy Challenges and Opportunities. J. Public Policy Mark. 2009, 28, 1547–7207.
  10. Mufutau Opeyemi, B. Path to Sustainable Energy Consumption: The Possibility of Substituting Renewable Energy for Non-Renewable Energy. Energy 2021, 228, 120519.
  11. Doyle, R.; Davies, A.R. Towards Sustainable Household Consumption: Exploring a Practice Oriented, Participatory Backcasting Approach for Sustainable Home Heating Practices in Ireland. J. Clean. Prod. 2013, 48, 260–271.
  12. Jaeger-Erben, M.; Rückert-John, J.; Schäfer, M. Sustainable Consumption through Social Innovation: A Typology of Innovations for Sustainable Consumption Practices. J. Clean. Prod. 2015, 108, 784–798.
  13. Usman, O.; Iortile, I.B.; Ike, G.N. Enhancing Sustainable Electricity Consumption in a Large Ecological Reserve–Based Country: The Role of Democracy, Ecological Footprint, Economic Growth, and Globalisation in Brazil. Environ. Sci. Pollut. Res. 2020, 27, 13370–13383.
  14. Hall, C.M. Framing Behavioural Approaches to Understanding and Governing Sustainable Tourism Consumption: Beyond Neoliberalism, “Nudging” and “Green Growth”? J. Sustain. Tour. 2013, 21, 1091–1109.
  15. Sharpley, R. On the Need for Sustainable Tourism Consumption. Tour. Stud. 2021, 21, 96–107.
  16. Hoek, A.C.; Malekpour, S.; Raven, R.; Court, E.; Byrne, E. Towards Environmentally Sustainable Food Systems: Decision-Making Factors in Sustainable Food Production and Consumption. Sustain. Prod. Consum. 2021, 26, 610–626.
  17. Moschis, G.P.; Mathur, A.; Shannon, R. Toward Achieving Sustainable Food Consumption: Insights from the Life Course Paradigm. Sustainability 2020, 12, 5359.
  18. Reisch, L.; Eberle, U.; Lorek, S. Sustainable Food Consumption: An Overview of Contemporary Issues and Policies. Sustain. Sci. Pract. Policy 2013, 9, 7–25.
  19. Vargas, A.M.; de Moura, A.P.; Deliza, R.; Cunha, L.M. The Role of Local Seasonal Foods in Enhancing Sustainable Food Consumption: A Systematic Literature Review. Foods 2021, 10, 2206.
  20. Cohen, B. Urbanization in Developing Countries: Current Trends, Future Projections, and Key Challenges for Sustainability. Technol. Soc. 2006, 28, 63–80.
  21. Lu, L.C.; Chiu, S.Y.; Chiu, Y.H.; Chang, T.H. Three-Stage Circular Efficiency Evaluation of Agricultural Food Production, Food Consumption, and Food Waste Recycling in EU Countries. J. Clean. Prod. 2022, 343, 130870.
  22. Thøgersen, J.; Pedersen, S.; Paternoga, M.; Schwendel, E.; Aschemann-Witzel, J. How Important Is Country-of-Origin for Organic Food Consumers? A Review of the Literature and Suggestions for Future Research. Br. Food J. 2017, 119, 542–557.
  23. Lorenz, B.A.; Langen, N. Determinants of How Individuals Choose, Eat and Waste: Providing Common Ground to Enhance Sustainable Food Consumption out-of-Home. Int. J. Consum. Stud. 2018, 42, 35–75.
  24. Aguirre Sánchez, L.; Roa-Díaz, Z.M.; Gamba, M.; Grisotto, G.; Moreno Londoño, A.M.; Mantilla-Uribe, B.P.; Rincón Méndez, A.Y.; Ballesteros, M.; Kopp-Heim, D.; Minder, B.; et al. What Influences the Sustainable Food Consumption Behaviours of University Students? A Systematic Review. Int. J. Public Health 2021, 66, 1604149.
  25. Xie, H.; Wen, Y.; Choi, Y.; Zhang, X. Global Trends on Food Security Research: A Bibliometric Analysis. Land 2021, 10, 119.
  26. Matandirotya, N.R.; Filho, W.L.; Mahed, G.; Maseko, B.; Murandu, C.V. Edible Insects Consumption in Africa towards Environmental Health and Sustainable Food Systems: A Bibliometric Study. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, 14823.
  27. Geiger, S.M.; Fischer, D.; Schrader, U. Measuring What Matters in Sustainable Consumption: An Integrative Framework for the Selection of Relevant Behaviors. Sustain. Dev. 2018, 26, 18–33.
  28. Vermeir, I.; Verbeke, W. Sustainable Food Consumption: Exploring the Consumer “Attitude—Behavioral Intention” Gap. J. Agric. Environ. Ethics 2006, 19, 169–194.
  29. Ober, J.; Karwot, J. Pro-Ecological Behavior: Empirical Analysis on the Example of Polish Consumers. Energies 2022, 15, 1690.
  30. Sigurdsson, V.; Larsen, N.M.; Pálsdóttir, R.G.; Folwarczny, M.; Menon, R.G.V.; Fagerstrøm, A. Increasing the Effectiveness of Ecological Food Signaling: Comparing Sustainability Tags with Eco-Labels. J. Bus. Res. 2022, 139, 1099–1110.
  31. Felix, R.; González, E.M.; Castaño, R.; Carrete, L.; Gretz, R.T. When the Green in Green Packaging Backfires: Gender Effects and Perceived Masculinity of Environmentally Friendly Products. Int. J. Consum. Stud. 2022, 46, 925–943.
  32. Liu, Y.; Segev, S.; Villar, M.E. Comparing Two Mechanisms for Green Consumption: Cognitive-Affect Behavior vs. Theory of Reasoned Action. J. Consum. Mark. 2017, 34, 442–454.
  33. Nguyen, H.V.; Nguyen, C.H.; Hoang, T.T.B. Green Consumption: Closing the Intention-Behavior Gap. Sustain. Dev. 2019, 27, 118–129.
  34. Wang, J.; Shen, M.; Chu, M. Why Is Green Consumption Easier Said than Done? Exploring the Green Consumption Attitude-Intention Gap in China with Behavioral Reasoning Theory. Clean. Responsible Consum. 2021, 2, 100015.
  35. Yadav, R.; Pathak, G.S. Determinants of Consumers’ Green Purchase Behavior in a Developing Nation: Applying and Extending the Theory of Planned Behavior. Ecol. Econ. 2017, 134, 114–122.
  36. Feijoo, G.; Moreira, M.T. Fostering Environmental Awareness towards Responsible Food Consumption and Reduced Food Waste in Chemical Engineering Students. Educ. Chem. Eng. 2020, 33, 27–35.
  37. Sarnacchiaro, P.; Boccia, F. Some Remarks on Measurement Models in the Structural Equation Model: An Application for Socially Responsible Food Consumption. J. Appl. Stat. 2018, 45, 1193–1208.
  38. Bordegoni, M.; Carulli, M.; Spadoni, E. Support Users towards More Conscious Food Consumption Habits: A Case Study. In Proceedings of the Design Society; Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK, 2021; Volume 1, pp. 2801–2810.
  39. Zagata, L. Towards Conscientious Food Consumption: Exploring the Values of Czech Organic Food Consumers. Int. J. Consum. Stud. 2014, 38, 243–250.
  40. Hunecke, M.; Richter, N. Mindfulness, Construction of Meaning, and Sustainable Food Consumption. Mindfulness 2019, 10, 446–458.
  41. Kawasaki, Y.; Akamatsu, R.; Fujiwara, Y.; Omori, M.; Sugawara, M.; Yamazaki, Y.; Matsumoto, S.; Iwakabe, S.; Kobayashi, T. Is Mindful Eating Sustainable and Healthy? A Focus on Nutritional Intake, Food Consumption, and Plant-Based Dietary Patterns among Lean and Normal-Weight Female University Students in Japan. Eat. Weight Disord. 2021, 26, 2183–2199.
  42. Tapper, K.; Seguias, L. The Effects of Mindful Eating on Food Consumption over a Half-Day Period. Appetite 2020, 145, 104495.
  43. Alvaro, C. Ethical Veganism, Virtue, and Greatness of the Soul. J. Agric. Environ. Ethics 2017, 30, 765–781.
  44. Siebertz, M.; Schroter, F.A.; Portele, C.; Jansen, P. Affective Explicit and Implicit Attitudes towards Vegetarian and Vegan Food Consumption: The Role of Mindfulness. Appetite 2022, 169, 105831.
  45. Kushwah, S.; Dhir, A.; Sagar, M. Understanding Consumer Resistance to the Consumption of Organic Food. A Study of Ethical Consumption, Purchasing, and Choice Behaviour. Food Qual. Prefer. 2019, 77, 1–14.
  46. Bryła, P. Organic Food Consumption in Poland: Motives and Barriers. Appetite 2016, 105, 737–746.
  47. Torres-Ruiz, F.J.; Vega-Zamora, M.; Parras-Rosa, M. False Barriers in the Purchase of Organic Foods. The Case of Extra Virgin Olive Oil in Spain. Sustainability 2018, 10, 461.
  48. Nathan, R.J.; Soekmawati; Victor, V.; Popp, J.; Fekete-Farkas, M.; Oláh, J. Food Innovation Adoption and Organic Food Consumerism-a Cross National Study between Malaysia and Hungary. Foods 2021, 10, 363.
  49. Aschemann-Witzel, J.; de Hooge, I.E.; Almli, V.L. My Style, My Food, My Waste! Consumer Food Waste-Related Lifestyle Segments. J. Retail. Consum. Serv. 2021, 59, 102353.
  50. Hansmann, R.; Baur, I.; Binder, C.R. Increasing Organic Food Consumption: An Integrating Model of Drivers and Barriers. J. Clean. Prod. 2020, 275, 123058.
  51. Su, C.H.; Tsai, C.H.; Chen, M.H.; Lv, W.Q. U.S. Sustainable Food Market Generation Z Consumer Segments. Sustainability 2019, 11, 3607.
  52. Kristia, K. Exploring Forms & Driving Factors of Environmentally Responsible Consumption Behaviour in Yogyakarta. Eqien-J. Ekon. Dan Bisnis 2022, 10, 137–140.
  53. Wahlen, S.; Heiskanen, E.; Aalto, K. Endorsing Sustainable Food Consumption: Prospects from Public Catering. J. Consum. Policy 2012, 35, 7–21.
  54. Peattie, K.; Crane, A. Green Marketing: Legend, Myth, Farce or Prophesy? Qual. Mark. Res. Int. J. 2005, 8, 357–370.
  55. Schiller-Merkens, S.; Machin, A. Knowing Food: Sustainability Politics, Food Policy Councils and the Co-Production of Knowledge. Int. J. Politics Cult. Soc. 2023, 36, 1–18.
  56. Chandan, A.; John, M.; Potdar, V. Achieving UN SDGs in Food Supply Chain Using Blockchain Technology. Sustainability 2023, 15, 2109.
  57. Djekic, I.; Batlle-Bayer, L.; Bala, A.; Fullana-I-palmer, P.; Jambrak, A.R. Role of the Food Supply Chain Stakeholders in Achieving Un Sdgs. Sustainability 2021, 13, 9095.
  58. Chen, H.S. Environmental Concerns and Food Consumption: What Drives Consumers’ Actions to Reduce Food Waste? J. Int. Food Agribus. Mark. 2019, 31, 273–292.
  59. Azzurra, A.; Massimiliano, A.; Angela, M. Measuring Sustainable Food Consumption: A Case Study on Organic Food. Sustain. Prod. Consum. 2019, 17, 95–107.
  60. Wang, C.; Ghadimi, P.; Lim, M.K.; Tseng, M.-L. A Literature Review of Sustainable Consumption and Production: A Comparative Analysis in Developed and Developing Economies. J. Clean. Prod. 2019, 206, 741–754.
  61. Eftimov, T.; Popovski, G.; Petković, M.; Seljak, B.K.; Kocev, D. COVID-19 Pandemic Changes the Food Consumption Patterns. Trends Food Sci. Technol. 2020, 104, 268–272.
  62. Rabbi, M.F.; Oláh, J.; Popp, J.; Máté, D.; Kovács, S. Food Security and the COVID-19 Crisis from a Consumer Buying Behaviour Perspective—The Case of Bangladesh. Foods 2021, 10, 3073.
  63. Nadia Hasbullah, N.; Sulaiman, Z.; Mas, A.; Nurhafizah Ahmad, S. Bibliometric Analysis Of Sustainable And Green Consumption Research From 1974 To 2019. Turk. J. Comput. Math. Educ. 2021, 12, 1292–1301.
  64. Quoquab, F.; Mohammad, J. A Review of Sustainable Consumption (2000 to 2020): What We Know and What We Need to Know. J. Glob. Mark. 2020, 33, 305–334.
  65. Verain, M.C.D.; Bartels, J.; Dagevos, H.; Sijtsema, S.J.; Onwezen, M.C.; Antonides, G. Segments of Sustainable Food Consumers: A Literature Review. Int. J. Consum. Stud. 2012, 36, 123–132.
Subjects: Others
Contributors MDPI registered users' name will be linked to their SciProfiles pages. To register with us, please refer to : , , ,
View Times: 338
Revisions: 2 times (View History)
Update Date: 15 Jun 2023