Woman's hand picks up a green apple from a crate of green apples

Research Cluster for Food Cultures in Transition

A multidisciplinary approach to make food more sustainable in challenging times

Many aspects of human life are affected by the ways in which people produce, distribute and consume food and drink. The cultures we create around food need to be healthy and fair, and environmentally sustainable.

The purpose of the multidisciplinary cluster for the study of Food Cultures in Transition (FoodCiTi) is to make food more sustainable in challenging times. The cluster is led by Professor Lisa Jack, Professor of Accounting in the Faculty of Business and Law. 

FoodCiTi is situated in the new field of sustainability transitions and its intersections with agri-food systems. We're concerned with changes that affect individual food choices, local provision of food and global food systems.

We follow the notion that food cultures are the practices, attitudes, beliefs and choices of individuals and groups, as well as the networks and institutions surrounding the production, distribution and consumption of food. We're looking to learn from past and present food cultures to help design new futures for food that will sustain people and the planet. 

We explore food and drink from every angle and our researchers come from all areas of the University – science, humanities, business and law, technology and the creative industries. 

The cluster sits under the University's Sustainability and the Environment research theme.

FoodCiTi has 3 sub-themes that reflect our research strengths

People reaching for plates of food surrounded by a table busy with dishes of food

Sub-Theme 1: Ethics and Culture in Food

Led by Dr Laurel Forster, this sub-theme brings together our ethnographic, sociological and cultural history approaches to the research of food and food consumption. This research will feed into the other two sub-themes.

aerial view of Portsmouth

Sub-Theme 2: Food and the City

Led by Prof Mark Xu, this sub-theme uses Portsmouth as a research site allowing us to investigate the challenges cities face, in terms of nutrition, for prevention of chronic disease; consumer behaviour; food inequality; supply chain security and use of urban spaces.

Peppers in plastic packaging

Sub-Theme 3: Innovation for Circular Economy and Food Integrity

Led by Dr Chris Simms, this sub-theme aims to extend our strong record of innovation projects on packaging and waste, cost models, food fraud, food integrity and AI solutions; and to develop interventions for the circular economy in food.

Meeting the food needs of the future

The ways food is produced and distributed have changed dramatically over the last 50 years and a new direction for UK food is needed. 

Sustainable food systems are of significant concern to governments. It is becoming apparent that current systems, particularly in developed countries, are neither secure nor sustainable. 

Countries are moving towards having National Food Policies, with the first phase of the UK policy being published in 2020. Our food systems should tackle issues such as food inequality, poor health outcomes and childhood obesity as well as sustainability and waste reduction. 

Our research aligns with the UN's Sustainability Goals and has links with the food and drink industry, policy makers, local government and campaigners across the world, particularly in less-developed countries.

Alongside our global focus, helping to transition the city of Portsmouth to a sustainable future is central to our work. This supports our strategy to be one of the leading civic universities. 

The city is one of the most densely-populated in Europe, with one of the UK's highest levels of food poverty and a prevalence of diet-related health issues. The city's port is the UK's fourth largest importer of non-EU fruit and vegetables, and the risk of flooding due to climate change exists alongside a high demand for local and sustainable food.

Aerial view of Portsmouth

Portsmouth has high levels of food poverty and diet-related health issues. The city's port is the UK's fourth largest importer of non-EU fruit and vegetables.

Cluster members

Lisa Janet Jack Portrait

Professor Lisa Jack

Professor of Accounting


PhD Supervisor

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Xianzhong Xu Portrait

Professor Mark Xu

Professor of Information Management


PhD Supervisor

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Laurel Cevelia Forster Portrait

Dr Laurel Forster

Reader in Cultural History


PhD Supervisor

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Christopher Don Simms Portrait

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Professor Chris Simms

Professor of Innovation Management and New Product Development


PhD Supervisor

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Stephen Fletcher Portrait

Professor Steve Fletcher

Theme Professor (Environment and Sustainability)


PhD Supervisor

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Deborah Sugg Ryan Portrait

Media ready expert

Professor Deborah Sugg Ryan

Professor of Design History and Theory


PhD Supervisor

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Barry Edward Smart Portrait

Professor Barry Smart

Professor of Sociology


PhD Supervisor

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Edward Philip Smart Portrait

Dr Edward Smart

Principal Research Fellow


PhD Supervisor

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Cressida Jane Bowyer Portrait

Media ready expert

Dr Cressida Bowyer


PhD Supervisor

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Lorenzo Dante Stafford Portrait

Dr Lorenzo Stafford

Reader in Psychobiological Psychology


PhD Supervisor

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Matthew Robert Anderson Portrait

Dr Matthew Anderson

Senior Lecturer


Portsmouth Business School

Faculty of Business and Law

PhD Supervisor

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Sustainability and Business

We're identifying how businesses can embed sustainability practices to contribute to achieving the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


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Innovation Management

We're looking into how organisations in low technology and process industries can optimise the management of their product and process development. Explore our innovation management research.

entrepreneur talking about innovation
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Sustainability and the Environment

In this research theme – one of five within the University – we're exploring topics like climate change and plastic pollution, and focusing on how we can help preserve the planet.

A row of wind turbines in the sea, in front of a sunset