This research examines food poverty definition, measurement, and predictors in Northern
Ireland (NI), and considers the implications for society, business and the economy of this
phenomenon, in order to identify opportunities for business and policy response. A sequential
mixed-methods approach was employed, involving qualitative data collection with
stakeholders through interviews and roundtables, and quantitative secondary data analysis.
The lack of an agreed measure of food insecurity in the United Kingdom (UK) acted as a
catalyst for this study, which aimed to evaluate stakeholder opinions on past, present and
potential future measurement approaches in NI. This thesis endorses the use of the United
States Household Food Security Survey Module (US HFSSM), and presents considerations
based on stakeholder opinion and the literature as to how this module could be revised.
This study examined stakeholder opinion on the conceptual definition of food poverty, and
offers recommendations as to elements of the food poverty experience which are important to
capture in a definition, which can inform UK adoption and endorsement of an existing
definition, or development of a novel definition.
Predictors of food insecurity were identified in the literature, by stakeholders, and tested
statistically. This study therefore contributes to the theoretical literature by confirming,
disconfirming and extending, where appropriate, predictors identified in the literature, as
relevant in the NI context. Predictors identified as significant in the NI context in this study
were as follows: age, number of adults in the household, health status, anxiety / depression,
employment status, receipt of state benefits, and housing tenure.
An evident gap in the literature was the lack of applicability of the topic to business, therefore
this research aimed to examine stakeholders’ opinions as to the implications of food poverty
for business and the economy, and thereby inform recommendations and opportunities for business and policy response. Stakeholders considered the link between food poverty and
business to be important, as members of a society living in food poverty will be less productive,
and therefore less able to contribute meaningfully in the workplace and to the economy.
Further, health care costs and welfare costs associated with those in food poverty present a
further cost implication to the economy, therefore investing in addressing food poverty was
considered important to reduce long term costs. It was agreed that any response should be
cross-departmental and cross-sectoral for maximum effect.
A conceptual model was developed which integrates findings from this study relating to
household risk factors (predictors), individual and macroeconomic implications, and
opportunities for business and policy response, thereby providing a theoretical contribution and
addressing gaps in the UK / NI food poverty literature.
- Food Poverty
- Food Insecurity