Knowledge for better food systems

Developing a sustainable food strategy for large organizations: The importance of context in shaping procurement and consumption practices

In this paper, FCRN member Dr Gary Goggins discusses factors that affect how organisations develop sustainable food strategies and sets out opportunities and constraints that apply across a range of organisations.

The paper points out that large organisations such as schools, hospitals and workplaces have an important role to place in achieving a sustainable food system, because they handle large amounts of food and offer the chance to intervene in eating habits.

Through interviews with key decision-makers in a selection of large organisations, the paper identifies factors that influence an organisation’s response to developing food sustainability, including their primary function, the sector in which they operate, their food procurement practices and contractual arrangements, their organizational food culture and material conditions.

Barriers to sustainable food provisioning identified by the paper include cost, lack of government investment, poor recognition of benefits and unwillingness of consumers to pay more.

Opportunities identified include redesigning menu options, managing food waste, training staff, educating consumers and staff, holding special events to promote sustainable food and incorporating sustainability into catering contracts.



Organizations such as hospitals, educational institutions and workplaces feed thousands of people every day and are key intermediaries in the food system. They are in a position to significantly shape the production, processing and distribution of food as well as food-related practices of large groups. These activities have a significant impact on sustainable development, the global economy and health and wellbeing. Using a qualitative approach that draws on 21 interviews with key decision-makers based in eight large national and multinational organizations, this research examines the most important contextual factors that influence food provisioning across organizations. The study identifies opportunities and constraints for improving food sustainability that are likely to apply within and across different organizational contexts, and provides recommendations for implementing a sustainable food strategy. The findings provide interesting theoretical insights and have practical implications that are relevant for practitioners, business managers and sustainability consultants.



Goggins, G., Developing a sustainable food strategy for large organizations: The importance of context in shaping procurement and consumption practices. Business Strategy and the Environment.

Read the full paper here. See also the Foodsource resource What interventions could potentially shift our eating patterns in sustainable directions?

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