Food

How do the brain and the body respond to food stimuli, which behavioral responses are triggered? How can ICT be deployed to measure and analyze the data? And most important, how can that data analysis be used to influence behavior? Research topics include nudging consumer purchasing behavior (food choice), or consumption and assessment of food and health (e.g. a calorie counter to measure food intake).

Challenges

Consumers are looking for healthier food, ecological products and local produce, but they often lack the required information to make an informed decision. At the same time, the industry seeks ways to increase production, but also to reduce costs and save energy, because the consumer wants a lower price as well. These contradicting interests present a huge challenge to the food sector.

ICT developments

ICT is changing the value chain, starting at the farm and through a sequence of processing and handling ending at the consumer. Each partner is challenged to be more efficient, more sustainable and more effective. Information is added along the chain, and producers and customers are increasingly looking beyond one chain-partner back or ahead. Allergy information, fair production and trade, ecological footprints and many other quality characteristics are not only relevant to consumers. In the end, all chain-partners need the information.
Smart farming is a breeding place for integrated ICT applications. ICT advances enable the farmer to track the behavior, health and welfare of each individual animal (precision livestock farming). Challenges lie in the field of standardization and interoperability, embedded systems and sensor networks.
On the consumer side, ICT solutions support increasingly detailed data gathering, for example using video observation and physiological sensing to unravel the relationship between food stimuli and brain responses.

Research

Research in this application domain relies on integration and analysis of these multidimensional data sets. The analysis can be used to discover and validate objective biomarkers for food-related responses, to develop models describing consumer behavior, or to provide feedback aimed at changing the behavior. A selection of i3B research projects are:

  • Accurate sensor-based recording of individual behaviour in group-housed animals
  • FOCOM: Food and Cognition Model systems
  • DONRO: Development of Nudges for Retail and Out-of-Home

 

 

Applications

Possible results of research in this application domain may be:

  • A smartphone app, providing feedback on eating behavior and calorie intake
  • No more beak trimming in hens, and no more tail docking in pigs
  • A system to measure subconscious responses of consumers when seeing, smelling and tasting food products
  • http://www.focom-project.net/portfolio-item/food-choice-simulator-fcs/
  • A system to quickly test a new nudging strategy, that contributes to healthy and sustainable food choice behavior of consumers

More information

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