(Un)Sustainable Food Consumption Dynamics in South/Southeast Asia: Changing Patterns, Practices and Policies among “New Consumers” in India and the Philippines
Research Question:

What are the consumption patterns of the growing middle classes in emerging countries? What are the environmental and social impacts of these practices? How can more sustainable consumption pathways be reached?

In emerging economies and among the growing middle classes, changing labour markets and production processes along with rising purchasing power is translating to a moving up on the energy and protein ladder. The consumption patterns of these new consumers raise concern among policy-makers and researchers in terms of environmental impact and social inequalities.


Very little empirical data exists at the sub-national level on the challenges and opportunities their consumption patterns actually represent and what role households might play in charting transitions to more sustainable patterns.

This research project will contribute new and inter-disciplinary research on the dynamics of consumption patterns, practices and policies among new consumers in two mega-cities of South and Southeast Asia: Bangalore, India, and Metro Manila, the Philippines.


This project is timely relevant, as the global economic slowdown will affect job opportunities in emerging economies, where concerns about wage and employment prospects have already subdued household consumption – which in turn may have unfavourable effects for promoting more sustainable forms of consumption.


While the research is city-specific, consumption must also be understood against the backdrop of change and continuity in the broader world system, including the labour market, migration and remittances, and global media flows.


This project proposes an approach that is relevant to studying consumption in other contexts and proposes research findings that will transcend the local to offer insights into how social practices emerge in a context of globalisation – towards a deeper understanding of sustainable consumption pathways.


Eating in and food waste in Bangalore

Eating out and food waste in Metro Manila

Project Members

Name Role Department/Institute Institution
Suren Erkman Coordinator Institute of Land Use Policies and Human Environment Université de Lausanne
Shalini Randeria Co-Coordinator Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology Universität Zürich
Marlyne Sahakian Co-Coordinator Institute of Land Use Policies and Human Environment Université de Lausanne
Sunayana Ganguly Principal Member Environmental Policy Research Centre Freie Universität Berlin
Christine Lutringer Principal Member Centre for Area and Cultural Studies Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne
Czarina Saloma Akpedonu Principal Member Institute of Philippine Culture Ateneo de Manila University - Quezon City
Arab Hoballah Associated Member Division of Technology, Industry and Economics UNEP United Nations Environment Programme
Randall Krantz Associated Member Environment Initiatives WEF - World Economic Forum
Uma Rani Associated Member International Institute of Labour Studies ILO International Labour Organisation