The adoption, use, and climate implications of online food hubs

Wilson, Mark (2022) The adoption, use, and climate implications of online food hubs. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

[thumbnail of 2022WilsonMPhD.pdf]
Download (7MB) | Preview


Online food hubs challenge the emission-intensive mainstream model of food provision by re-localising supply chains and connecting producers with consumers. One example is Open Food Network, which provides an open source direct marketing platform in 20 countries. This thesis answers three questions: 1) how does using an online food hub affect household food behaviours? 2) what are the drivers and context of adoption which could affect a scaling up of online food hubs? 3) what are the greenhouse gas emission implications of using an online food hub? The Diffusion of Innovations theoretical framework was used to analyse empirical data collected through a collaboration with Open Food Network UK. Interview respondents (n=20) reported eating a healthier, more seasonal diet and wasting less food since joining their local hub. A questionnaire survey explored perceptions of online food hubs among users and non-users (n=595) to assess the scope for increasing adoption. Both groups were positive about the food quality and environmental attributes, but non-users were less certain about compatibility with their existing shopping routines and preferences. Finally, hub users’ (n=94) shopping data was combined with Life Cycle Analysis literature to estimate the effects of altered food behaviours and switching supply chains on emissions. Six mechanisms were identified which indicate potential emission reductions, albeit within large uncertainty ranges. Encouraging a healthier diet was the most impactful mechanism, with savings up to 5853 kg CO2-eq. household-1 year-1. These findings can inform policy with respect to climate mitigation and public health goals, as well as providing insights into the adoption of low carbon digital innovations.

Key words

Online food hub, Open Food Network, low carbon, digital innovation, consumer, household food behaviour

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: James Tweddle
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2022 16:09
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2022 16:09


Downloads per month over past year

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item