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Food sharing, redistribution, and waste reduction via mobile applications: a social network analysis

Harvey, John; Smith, Andrew; Goulding, James; Branco-illodo, I.


Professor of Consumer Behaviour & Analytics

I. Branco-illodo


Food sharing mobile applications are becoming increasingly popular, but little is known about the new social configurations of people using them, particularly those applications that use consumers as voluntary intermediaries in supply chains. This article presents a social network analysis of a food sharing mobile application conducted in partnership with OLIO. The study focuses on longitudinal social network data from 54913 instances of food sharing between 9054 people and was collected over 10 months. The results challenge existing theories of food sharing (reciprocity, kin selection, tolerated scrounging, and costly signalling) as inadequate by showing that donor-recipient reciprocity and balance are rare, but also show that genuinely novel social relations have formed between organisations and consumers which depart from traditional linear supply chains. The findings have significant implications for managers and policymakers aiming to encourage, measure and understand technology-assisted food sharing practices.


Harvey, J., Smith, A., Goulding, J., & Branco-illodo, I. (2020). Food sharing, redistribution, and waste reduction via mobile applications: a social network analysis. Industrial Marketing Management, 88, 437-448.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 27, 2019
Online Publication Date Apr 2, 2019
Publication Date 2020-07
Deposit Date Mar 6, 2019
Publicly Available Date Apr 3, 2021
Journal Industrial Marketing Management
Print ISSN 0019-8501
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 88
Pages 437-448
Keywords Food sharing; Food waste; Altruism; Reciprocity; Social network analysis; Sharing economy
Public URL
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