Demand-side policies for mitigating climate change based on behavioural insights are gaining increased attention in research and practice. This paper describes a systematic map that catalogues existing research on behaviourally-informed interventions targeting changes in consumer food consumption and food waste behaviour.
The purpose is to gain an overview of research foci and gaps, providing an evidence base for deeper analysis. In terms of food consumption, the focus is on animal protein (meat, fish, dairy, and eggs) and its substitutes. The map follows the standards for evidence synthesis from the Collaboration for Environmental Evidence (CEE) as well as the Reporting Standards for Systematic Evidence Syntheses (ROSES). The paper identifies 49 articles including 56 separate studies, as well as 18 literature reviews and finds a variety of study designs with a focus on canteen and restaurant studies as well as a steep increase of publications since 2016.
The authors have also created an interactive evidence atlas that plots these studies across geographical space. Here, they find a concentration of research in the Anglo-Saxon world. Most studies follow multi-intervention designs and focus on actual food consumption behaviour, fewer on food waste behaviour. They identify knowledge clusters amenable for a systematic review focusing on the effectiveness of these interventions, namely: priming, disclosure, defaults, social norms, micro-environment changes, and ease of use.
The systematic map highlights knowledge gaps, where more primary research is needed and evidence cannot support policy; it identifies knowledge clusters, where sufficient studies exist but there is a lack of clarity over effectiveness, so full synthesis can be conducted rapidly; finally, it reveals patterns in research methods that can highlight best practices and issues with methodology that can support the improvement of primary evidence production and mitigation of research waste. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first systematic study mapping this specific area.