Home / New computational modelling to assess Socio-Economic Processes in Sustainable Food System Adoption

New computational modelling to assess Socio-Economic Processes in Sustainable Food System Adoption

More International actors of the food-production chain and consumers are becoming aware of the impact that agriculture has on our planet. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimated that approximately 70% of global freshwater use and 21-37% of total greenhouse gas (GUG) emissions are generated by agriculture. According to a Cambridge University researcher, Dr. Simon Carrignon from McDonald Institute of Archaeology, 'switching to sustainable diets could reduce these emissions, while significantly impacting health and inequality issues.'

International public and private organizations have identified the reduction of meat consumption as one of the best options for reducing GHG in a reasonable and efficient manner. According to market projections, there is a significant increase in the market share of the alternative protein industry. However, Carrignon observed that 'these market projections provide a generalised views that hardly account for socio-economic and cultural specificities and hardly explain the processes behind the observations.'

Carrignon and C2D3 wanted to address this lack of causal understanding of the link between the observed switch to Planet-Based Alternative and the individual decision of customers' by combining socio-cultural and environmental factors through Agent Based Modeling and Appropriate Bayesian Computation.

EC seed funding from C2D3 allowed Dr. Carrignon to develop appropriate tools and models to measure such changes in consumption of planet-based food and present the challenges and the novelty of these tools to actors of the Plant-Based Alternative industry, such as PBFA, FSI and IAMECON. Carrignon, C2D3 and the Plant-Based Alternative specialists partnered to continue extending the development of the new tools to understand the processes behind the adoption or not of Plant-Based food through a AHRC proposal that combines data collection and analysis with computational modeling.

The project, initiated by C2D3 funding and Dr. Carrignon leadership, will enable to understand customers' choice better than current market projections and will help steering Plant-Based Alternatives campaigns and policymakers in the future.

interaction between customers' diet choices

Illustration of a network of social interaction between people with different diets (vegan, vegetarian,  flexitarian and omnivorous)

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The Cambridge Centre for Data-Driven Discovery (C2D3) brings together researchers and expertise from across the academic departments and industry to drive research into the analysis, understanding and use of data science and AI. C2D3 is an Interdisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Cambridge.

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