Mapping the food (waste) chain: Stakeholder networks and the public debate on food waste

One of the major challenges of the 21st century is food waste. We currently waste about 30% of all produced food. In the public debate about food waste, consumers are often targeted as the group that wastes most food. Also, producers waste food during production, which receives media attention. Finally, supermarkets play a key role in the food (waste) chain. While consumers, producers and supermarkets waste food, the important role of signaling to media the problem is often taken up by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and social movements (SMs). As governments are becoming more hesitant in implementing laws in market sectors, NGOs and SOs rise to take responsibility in signaling problems such as food waste.

The aim of this study is to map the public debate on food waste between 2012 and 2017. We focus on the framing of food waste in newspaper articles and show how consumers, producers, supermarkets and NGOs/SMs are portrayed in the media. This will reveal how the different stakeholders are framed in the media; where this framing overlaps and/or differs; and how the framing changed over time. Our project will contribute to the literature on food waste and corporate social responsibility (discussing NGOs and SMs), because we will show how different stakeholders in the food (waste) chain are framed in the public debate. As opposed to prior studies in this area, we will leverage automated content analysis techniques to produce longitudinal social and semantic network maps. These maps will show how the framing of food waste in the public debate changed over time, tracing the relative positioning of the different stakeholders. Besides the scientific contribution, our project will also deliver valuable insights for the relevant stakeholders. These insights can aid in reducing food waste in supermarkets, during production and in households.