The impact of rurality on consumers' access to food services, using a food poverty risk index.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Dispersed populations induce lower consumer demands, which in turn exerts influence on market-driven environments. Supply and demand are used to justify the urban centralisation of amenities, leaving rural territories with rudimentary service inadequacies. This rural-urban dichotomy in respect of food availability is an interceding factor in food dietary choice especially for low income rural consumers. Previous research shows that dispersed service provisions significantly increase the impact of poverty experiences differently on rural dwellers, in comparison with their urban counterparts. Previous food basket studies, encompassing the interplay between food availability, terrestrial location and socio-economic status have primarily focused on urban locations.

The aim of this research is to map and identify rural communities polarised by their spatial distribution in terms of food availability, accessibility and affordability. A food availability and affordability audit (n=42) was conducted in both rural and urban locations. Data was analysed using the IBM Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) Version 24 software. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) was used to build and map an ‘at risk of food poverty index’ by integrating pertinent socio-economic and infrastructural drivers of food poverty with the food audit at the scale of Census Small Areas.

Early findings are indicative of a strong relationship between spatial accessibility, availability and affordability of food for rural dwellers. In comparison with urban areas, there is a statistically significance difference between the availability (p≤0.05) and the affordability (p≤0.01) of food for rural dwellers. Preliminary mapping indicates that by layering and weighting ‘risk’ variables, it is possible to identify Small Areas at greatest risk of food poverty.

It is critical that food environments are not epitomised by a bipartite urban/rural system, whereby households are deprived by the distributional consequences of their rurality. This research identifies rural communities who are exposed to divergence in terms of food poverty.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 7 Dec 2020


  • food poverty
  • rural food poverty
  • food access
  • food affordability
  • GIS (geographical information systems)


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