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Professor of marketing and consumer behaviour at Wageningen University Hans van Trijp shared his thoughts at the EuroSense Conference on a “Sense of Earth” in Turku, Finland in September, 2022.

The main point of his presentation was “How could the field of Food Consumer Science reinvent itself to truly be the scientific data rich discipline to support public food policy and private food strategy in understanding and bringing about the necessary transitions in the areas of healthy and sustainable food consumption”?

As scientific coordinator of COMFOCUS, Hans presented a vision and an approach of COMFOCUS – a consortium of European partners working together in the EU funded research infrastructure project.

He talked about important factors in the external environment of the field of Food Consumer Science. Namely, that the health and sustainability challenge requires a “new” balance between internal and external validity of the study designs and interpretations. It will also have methodological impact on dominant research approaches – from doing research ON consumers, increasingly also to do so WITH consumers. And finally, about FAIR data principles – they require that all of our data are Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Re-usable.

Hans gave some examples from his scientific life on how to focus more on external validity and where it requires completely different study designs. Building on early work by Howard Schutz, he argued that for external validity focus, the field needs to move forward along three important dimensions. First, in terms of research participants in our studies, it would require a shift towards data collected from randomly selected, real life consumers. In terms of product, the focus should move beyond ingredients or isolated products to capture the full real-life shopping and consumption habits. In terms of measures, the field should move beyond self-expressed liking and preference measures to consumption patterns as they actually emerge in terms of real behaviour.

Professor Hans van Trijp also talked about marketing approaches, data harmonization, ontologies and benefits that COMFOCUS will bring.

He highlighted that COMFOCUS is open to young career researchers and invites them to become part of the COMFOCUS community. It offers opportunities to become a COMFOCUS fellow and to take active part in the COMFOCUS Open Calls – 1 and 2, specifically designed for partners from outside the current COMFOCUS consortium.

Please do not hesitate to contact us in case of interest. You can do so through the COMFOCUS email or during any of the future events.

Feel free to join the COMFOCUS roundtables taking place in April in Slovakia and Denmark.