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Shared Responsibility for Sustainable Consumption? The Case of the European Food Industry
Frank-Martin Belz and Jasmin Pobisch, Technical University of Munich, Germany
Sustainable consumption, which is socially balanced, ecologically benign and economically viable, cannot be realized by a single societal, political or economic actor. Approaches or demands, which make a single actor responsible for the problems and solutions, are short-sighted. Here we can drad the conclusion, that directly and indirectly involved actors have a shared responsibility for sustainable consumption: producers, consumers, consumer policy, consumer organizations, environmental organizations etc.

The present paper proposal deals with the shared responsibility of the European food industry for sustainable eating and drinking patterns. It focuses on the following research questions:

(1) Do European food producers feel obliged to the idea and concept of sustainable consumption? (2) How do European food producers interpret sustainable consumption? What is their understanding? (3) Do European food producers actively support sustainable eating and drinking patterns? If so, to which extent? How? With whom?

The research may be seen in the light of a qualitative paradigm. Two complementary studies will be carried out from April until June 2004: First, a systematic qualitative-quantitative content analysis of written documents (annual, environmental, social and sustainability reports of European food companies) and second, a series of personal semi-structured, open interviews with representatives of the European food industry.

At the Greening of Industry Network conference in Hong Kong the authors intend to present and discuss the empirical results of the two qualitative studies as well as “best practices” of European food companies, which take their shared responsibility for sustainable eating and drinking patterns seriously.

(approx. 260 words)

 
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