Exploring the Opportunities and Challenges of ICT-Mediated Food Sharing in Japan

In Sustainability MDPI
Volume (Issue): 15(5)
Peer-reviewed Article
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Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have been identified as potential enablers for alternative forms of sharing surplus food to prevent food loss and waste. Food sharing platforms can also provide an entry point to the sustainability transition by encouraging its users to confront the systemic causes of unsustainable and inequitable food systems. The paper explores the opportunities and challenges of ICT-mediated food sharing platforms in Japan. A comparative case study of 10 food sharing platforms operating in Japan was drawn from a web content analysis and semi-structured interviews. A consumer-side analysis was conducted, based on a Japan-wide survey of 10,000 respondents, to understand consumers’ general attitudes towards ICT-mediated food sharing and identify key challenges and drivers for its expansion. This paper provides initial contributions to understanding the Japanese experience of ICT-mediated food sharing from both the supply and consumption sides. All investigated food sharing platforms embedded food waste reduction and sustainable objectives in their mission. However, a consumer-side survey suggests that participation in food sharing was mainly driven by price consciousness and convenience orientation. Distrust towards the safety of redistributed food and reluctance to engage in a sharing community were some of the main barriers identified to food sharing. Highlighting convergences and divergences between platforms and consumers was key to starting developing intervention designs towards expanding online food sharing and leading consumers’ behaviour change.