Economics of Food Security

Professor George Hutchinson, Chair of Rural & Environmental Economics

The Economics of Food Security aims to valuing investments and policies related, but not restricted, to food security, food safety and food integrity. Using state of the art economic valuation techniques, such as discrete choice analysis and economic experiments, the team can contribute to multidisciplinary research into the economic costs and benefits associated with efforts to enhance food production and distribution chains. The consumer demand and market receptivity for such enhancements can also be assessed. Working closely with researchers from other areas and the agricultural and industrial sectors, we aim to identify how food security, food safety and food integrity affect consumer’s food choices and citizen’s willingness to pay for these services.

An additional aim of the theme is to understand how people’s food choices - related to health issues such as obesity – are shaped by their risk and time preferences and how choices can be modified by using instruments such as nutritional labelling, taxation and  monetary incentives.


Professor George Hutchinson’s principal research interest is in methodological issues associated with Discrete Choice Contingent Valuation, Choice Modelling and Economic Experiments: methods much used in environmental, health and in food  economics where he has investigated the micro-economics of food choice in the RCUK Centre of Excellence for Public Health NI of which he is a Management Executive Member. He has published international peer-reviewed journals including The Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Land Economics, The Journal of Health Economics, Animal Welfare and The Journal of Agricultural  Economics.

Professor Riccardo Scarpa is currently Gibson chair for Enviornmental, Rural and Food Economics at Queen's University of Belfast. He has contributed several peer reviewed papers on food choice and economics in leading food economics journals (Amer. J. of Agr. Econ, Europ. J. of Agr. Econ., Australian J. Ag. And Res. Econ., J. of Psych. and Marketing, Agr. Econ.). He is interested in innovating statistical models of food choice so as to make them more insightful and realistic, and ultimately policy relevant. The food themes that he has investigated include animal welfare, labels for food miles, place of origin, local typical products and changing consumption patterns.

Dr Alberto Longo has undertaken extensive research in cost benefit analysis and non-market valuation techniques applied to land use, food safety and security, cultural heritage, energy, transport, and biodiversity.  His works have appeared in peer-reviewed journals, including The journal of Health Economics,Environmental and Resource Economics, Ecological Economics, Environment and Planning A, Regional Science and Urban Economics and Social Science and Medicine. He is currently interested in food choice and health economics.

Dr Marco Boeri is currently Lecturer in Environmental and ecological economics at Queen's University of Belfast. He is interested in food security and food safety, environmental and resource economics, health economics, energy economics, micro-econometrics, non-market valuation, preference analysis and the importance of regret in choices. His research aims at understanding people's preferences and trades off when choosing foods products. He published in the Journal of Health Economics, Environmental and Resource Economics and other main journals in the fields of applied economics.