4 October 2023

PhD project explores more sustainable consumer habits in canteens

Reducing waste

Can a cloud-based scaling system reduce Food waste and increase the intake of plant-based foods? In this article, PhD student Sujita Pandey talks about her research into which strategies can be implemented into canteen kitchens to make it happen.

Sujita Pandey foto af Lene Hundborg Koss
PhD Sujita Pandey. Photo: Lene Hundborg Koss

This article is part of a series on the research carried out by PhD students at the Department of Food Science at the University of Copenhagen, UCPH FOOD. The research contributes to expanding our understanding of food and supports the food system with a view to delivering healthy, tasty, and sustainable foods.


What is the focus of your project?

The main focus of my project is to prevent and reduce food waste at the university canteens and reduce meat-based food consumption by changing canteen meals towards a more plant-based diet by offering alternative diet solutions.

What does your part of the project involve?

The main part of my project is to apply a mixed-method approach to understand consumers’ attitudes and behaviour towards reducing food waste behaviour and thereby design a nudging intervention for reducing food waste at the university canteen. Further, conduct a nutritional life cycle assessment to quantify nutrition loss and environmental impacts of food waste in the university canteen. Additionally, it promotes new meat alternatives and raises awareness about the environmental footprint associated with meat and food waste in general.

What inspired you to delve into this research field?

Finding an innovative solution for minimizing food waste and promoting sustainability.

How could your research potentially impact the food industry or consumer habits?

The findings from the research have great potential to reduce food waste in the food service sector. Some of the innovative strategies we have been considering and analysing might be crucial for influencing consumers towards sustainable and responsible consumption habits in out-of-home dining settings.

Sujita Pandey doing litterature review. Picture: Lene Hundborg Koss

Does your research involve the study of food culture? If yes, what insights or cultural discoveries have you made in connection to your research?

Yes, the research greatly involves understanding the food practices and habits of Danish canteen users. Some of the interesting findings include the disparity between Danish consumers' attitudes or intentions and their actual food waste behaviour.

Does your research contribute to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly food production or consumption?

Yes, it does. The research aims to contribute to sustainable development goal 12.3 which is to reduce food waste at the retail and consumer level. The research involves designing nudging strategies to promote plant-based food consumption. As well as the project also uses innovative systems to measure food waste and improve future menu planning

Where are you currently in the process, and how is it progressing?

I am in my second year and with the continuous support of my supervisors and colleagues at the University of Copenhagen and Jespers Torvekøkken, the research project is going as planned. We have a baseline understanding of consumers’ attitudes and behaviour at the university canteen and are currently, working on understanding the effectiveness of the nudging intervention that was implemented at three Danish university canteen in March 2023.

What do you hope will come out of your work?

I hope my work can contribute to creating a more sustainable and equitable food system.


PhD fellow at the Department of Food Science, University of Copenhagen (UCPH FOOD), Sujita Pandey, sujita@food.ku.dk


Communications officer at UCPH FOOD Lene Hundborg Koss, lene.h.koss@food.ku.dk


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