PhD position. Consumer adoption of sustainable food packaging

Published on
September 12, 2017
Location Wageningen
Scientific field Behavior and Society
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We are looking for

New materials and technologies applied in food packaging may provide new opportunities to assure the biodegradability and recyclability, and reduce food waste, in the frame of the EU Circular Economy strategy. Several of these technologies might involve the re-use of food industry by-products.

Consumer adoption and correct use of the new packaging is essential to achieve these opportunities. Therefore, the positioning and communication of such new technologies needs to be optimally aligned with consumer perception and understanding of product-packaging combinations, which may not necessarily align with the “objective” environmental impact assessments from technical life cycle assessments.

The key objective of this 4 year PhD project is to model consumer adoption of sustainable food packaging, by identifying consumer segments and the packaging element combinations that lead to increased perceived benefits and minimized perceived risks.

We are looking for a PhD candidate, who will investigate how combinations of elements in sustainable packaging for specific fresh products increases adoption among different consumer segments across EU.

In this project the candidate will
* Create a theoretical framework on consumers’ adoption of food packaging as a function of (a) product types, (b) individual differences, and (c) retail outlets.
* Conduct a pan-European survey to unravel consumers’ understanding of, and current behaviours toward, sustainability, specifically in relation to food. Consumer segmentation will be conducted.
* Conduct a follow-up pan-European study to understand consumers’ needs and preferences regarding sustainable food packaging. Product specifications will be determined by consumer segment.
* Conduct an experimental pan-European study to identify the preferred communication strategies by consumers from the identified segments. Assessment of sketches of the products representing various package/product/price combinations will be conducted.
* Perform three consumer studies to validate previous findings on the equality of surpassing in terms of acceptance of the newly developed products compared to conventional packaging as well as satisfaction of consumers’ needs. One will be in a central location test, the second one a home-use test, and the third one will be a validation study in real-life supermarket environments where real purchases will be tracked.
Your work will consist of a literature study, international surveys and consumer behavior experiments. The approach to the data collection is quantitative and requires skills with, or willingness to learn to interpret and conduct complex statistical procedure.

The Wageningen UR Marketing and Consumer Behaviour Group is part of a EU funded consortium that investigates the potential of innovative packaging towards more sustainable food production chains. The consortium consists of university and industrial partners of a range of countries and aims to develop close to market applications of new food packaging. Hence the project gives the candidate the opportunity to create a European academic and industrial network.

Besides writing a PhD dissertation, you will present your work on conferences and through scientific publications.

We ask

The candidate has:
* A university degree (MSc) in a consumer behavior relevant field (e.g. consumer science, marketing, social psychology, behavioral economics)
* Affinity and demonstrable experience with quantitative research methods
* Affinity with food consumer research and the role of (packaging) sustainability therein
* Openness and willingness to collaborate with partners from other European countries and scientific disciplines
* Clear scientific ambition in the conduct and publication of research work
* Good control of English (both verbally and written)
* A group-social, critical and positive learning attitude towards achieving excellence

The supervision of this project will be done by Dr. Betina Piqueras Fiszman and Prof dr Hans van Trijp. For more information about the post, please contact Please do not use this e-mail address to apply. Only applications sent to our website can be taken into consideration.

We offer

We offer a a full-time PhD position for a period of 18 months, extended by another 30 months after positive evaluation. Gross yearly salary will increase from € 31010 in the first year up to € 39635 in the last year based on a full-time appointment (38 hours per week). You will be working in a pleasant and inspiring environment in the context of an innovative research consortium.

The supervision of this project will be done by Dr. Betina Piqueras Fiszman and Prof dr Hans van Trijp. For more information about the post, please contact Please do not use this e-mail address to apply. Only applications sent to our website can be taken into consideration.


More information

For more information you can contact:
Dr. Betina Piqueras Fiszman or Prof dr Hans (HCM) van Trijp.
Email addresses: or

Please apply by uploading your CV and letter of motivatiom before September 25th.

We are

The Marketing and Consumer Behaviour Group is part of Wageningen University in the Social Sciences Group. The Marketing and Consumer Behaviour group is at the forefront of agricultural marketing groups of the world. Our mission is to increase the sustainability of the food production chain through our knowledge and understanding of and contribution to marketing and consumer behavior research.

Wageningen University and Research centre
Delivering a substantial contribution to the quality of life. That's our focus – each and every day. Within our domain, healthy food and living environment, we search for answers to issues affecting society – such as sustainable food production, climate change and alternative energy. Of course, we don’t do this alone. Every day, 6,500 people work on ‘the quality of life’, turning ideas into reality, on a global scale.