Research Opportunities

The Business of Food requests proposals from Cornell faculty that advance research on food and beverage topics as they relate to the business disciplines. Awarded projects will receive up to $10,000 in funding. The research should involve collaborations across schools within the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business and/or between the SC Johnson College and CALS. The projects should result in research synergies, where demonstrated results are enhanced because of cross-discipline efforts. The goal is to fund research projects likely to lead to external funding. For more information contact:  Kristen Park.


Business of Food - Small Research Grants (2022-2023)

How Using a Non-Native vs. Native Language Influences Food Choices

Archer Pan, Ph.D. student, Johnson Graduate School, Kaitlin Woolley, Associate Professor, Johnson Graduate School, Marie Ozanne, Assistant Professor, Nolan School of Hotel Administration, Xinlian (Priscilla) Zhang, M.S., student, Nolan School of Hotel Administration.

Abstract: Living in an increasingly globalized world, more and more consumers make purchase decisions in contexts where they need to use a language other than their native tongue. Despite the ubiquity of multilingualism and use of a foreign language to make food-related decisions, there is limited understanding of whether and how using a non-native versus native language influences consumers’ food choices. The proposed research will examine whether linguistic context (native vs. non-native) influences the types of foods consumers are interested in eating, in particular, how language impacts preference for healthy versus unhealthy food. This project integrates previous research in the areas of linguistics, cognition, and self-control, and can provide implications for food marketers, consumers, and food policy makers.

Mapping Information Networks that Promote Apiculture Development in Kayonza, Eastern Rwanda

Fridah Mubichi-Kut, Professor of Practice, Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Scott McArt, Assistant Professor, Entomology, Alex Susskind, Professor, Nolan School of Hotel Administration, Landouard Hategekimana, Veterinarian, Rwanda Ministry of Agriculture, Kayonza District.

Abstract: Rwanda is the fifth largest producer of honey in Africa and yet its production remains limited primarily due to traditional beekeeping practices. Recent studies suggest that there are approximately 120,000 beekeepers in the country and only 35% engage in modern beekeeping practices. Despite increased programming, women and youth have remained the minority and are greatly disadvantaged primarily due to limited information and training opportunities. Recognizing that social networks play an important role in agricultural technology adoption, this study engages Cornell faculty, students and Rwandan community stakeholders to identify the types of networks that might promote access to information that promote women and youth participation in modern beekeeping technologies in Kayonza district, eastern Rwanda.

Consumer Reaction to Dynamic Pricing with Online Ordering for Grocery and Restaurant Delivery

Sheryl Kimes, Professor Emeritus, Nolan School of Hotel Administration, Edward McLaughlin, Professor Emeritus, Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management.

Abstract:  Both grocery and restaurant online ordering have grown in popularity in the U.S. and in other parts of the world. The majority of delivery orders come through third-party delivery platforms such as Instacart and DoorDash. Typically, the third-party companies charge a commission for their services to operators and sometimes also impose additional fees.  In order to cover these additional costs, operators often raise consumer prices for delivery items.  Such a strategy leaves operators faced with one central question: how to raise prices without negatively affecting customer satisfaction and loyalty.  Specifically, this study will assess how consumers evaluate the higher prices often associated with delivery orders and how these assessments vary between the grocery and restaurant industries.

Business of Food - Small Research Grants (2021-2022)

The Impact of Environment Nudges on Food Consumption

Tommaso Bondi, Assistant Professor of Marketing and Demir Sabanci Faculty Fellow in Marketing and Management, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business and Cornell Tech

Abstract: Climate change is the most pressing issues of our times, and food consumption choices arguably represent consumers’ biggest channel of impact. Nevertheless, a majority of Americans remain uninformed about these issues. Partnering with FootPrint, a Cornell Tech alumni-led startup, I propose a series of field experiments to study the effectiveness (and commercial viability) of informational nudges aimed to steer consumers towards more environmentally friendly food choices. Do they work? Who responds to them? Are some consumers – on the contrary – unresponsive to information, or information-averse to begin with? Are the effects short- or long-lived? And do responsive consumers switch to greener choices in other consumption domains, too?

Managing Macroeconomic Shocks in Grocery Retailing and Food Supply Chain: A Data-driven Approach

Vishal Gaur, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Dan Hooker, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Kashish Arora Ph.D. Candidate, ailtoCornell SC Johnson College of Business

Abstract: How severely do macroeconomic shocks affect grocery retailing and supply chains? How long do these effects last? How can demand forecasting and supply chain management be improved to reduce the severity and duration of the effects of macroeconomic shocks? The goal of the project is to: (i) model the effects of macroeconomic shocks on firms at different stages of the food supply chain, (ii) collaborate with grocery firms to build a public-private data set to estimate these effects on firms’ operational and financial performance, and (iii) provide firms with insights to manage their supply chains more effectively under macroeconomic shocks.

Marketing Improvements Using Point-of-Sale (POS) Data for Farm Vendors at Farmers Markets in New York State

Todd M. Schmit and Matthew N. LeRoux, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management

Abstract:  We will expand research on point-of-sale (POS) transaction data with livestock and produce farms utilizing farmers markets and farm stands or stores. Our previously funded work with NE-SARE developed a practical methodology but stopped short of testing marketing treatments to increase daily sales. We will include specific recommendations with participating farms and use POS data to estimate economic impacts.

Business of Food - Small Research Grants (2020-2021)

Online Shopping and Food Waste

Miguel Gómez and Koichi Yonezawa, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management

Abstract: It is a well-known fact that the global population is getting older. If people modify their dietary habits and food consumption with age, or if they differ across generations, then the aging population can have potentially significant impacts on the food system and thereby on food security. Because consumers are at the end of any food value chain, other stakeholders such as farmers, food manufacturers, retailers, and policy makers must understand the short and long-term implications of the evolution of their dietary habits and food consumption patterns. In this project, we will investigate the longitudinal relationship between food shopping, preparation, and consumption across time and population groups. Our findings may help policy makers design improved sustainable health policies in an aging society.

Category Captaincy and Its Impact on Private Label Segment: Evidence from the Cereal Aisle

Jura Liaukonyte, Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, and Aaron A. Adalja, School of Hotel Administration

Abstract: Vertical arrangements such as slotting allowances and category captaincy have become increasingly popular in retail markets. Strategic behavior involving both price and non-price aspects (for example shelf-space allocation, assortment selection) between a retailer and a dominant manufacturer, common in category captaincy practice, can have a large impact on the competitive landscape and consumer welfare. Not surprisingly, these practices have been the target of investigation from many industry experts and policy-makers.

This project attempts to address several important research questions concerning Category Captaincy in the context of ready-to-eat [RTE] cereal market. Specifically, this proposed project will focus on private label segment and will investigate how the assortment depth and market shares of private label products across retailers are impacted by category captaincy, given the special ownership arrangement mentioned above.

Food Consumption during Technology-Mediated Interactions

Kaitlin Woolley and Sarah Lim, Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management

Abstract:  Current advancements in technology have allowed for the coordination of remote business and social communication. Yet, one challenge when not co-located is shared consumption. Socializing, especially over a meal, is a key way people bond socially and in business. The proposed research aims to understand how technology-mediated communication affects people’s ability to connect over food. The current research will contribute to prior work on food consumption by advancing our understanding of social dynamics intertwined with food consumption in virtual communications. In addition, this research will provide insights for how managers can facilitate social interactions between team members who are not physically together.

Business of Food – Small Research Grants (2019-2020 Awards)

The Global Food Dollar Series

Christopher B. Barrett, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Miguel I. Gómez, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Elena Belavina, School of Hotel Administration, Nagesh Gavirneni, Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management

External Collaborators: Patrick Canning and Michelle Saksena, Economists, U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service (USDA ERS)

We propose to construct a panel database of Global Food Dollar Series for 50 countries spanning the period 1995-2011 for 1) all foods, 2) food consumed at home, and 3) food away from home. We will follow the Input-Output Table methods employed by USDA ERS to construct the U.S Food Dollar Series. We will employ these data to examine variations across time and countries, including the relationship of share of farm value to per capita real income, agricultural sector productivity, urbanization, and cost of production inputs. These analyses will serve as a proof of concept for a longer-term, more nuanced analysis that uses more disaggregated data series to explore specific industry sub-sectors and environmental as well as economic outcomes.


Reducing Food Waste at the Employee Dining Halls of a Hotel: Field Experiment

Elena Belavina, School of Hotel Administration, Xiaoyue Yan,
Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management

External Collaborator: Ekaterina Astashkina, PhD Candidate, Technology & Operations Management Department, INSEAD

The goal of the project is (i) to identify the drivers of post-consumer food waste at the all-you-can-eat worksite canteens, and (ii) to select, design and quantify the most effective food waste reduction intervention. A large-scale field experiment is to be conducted at the employee dining halls of the LVS Corporation hotel property (subject pool ~9,000 pers.), comprised of various interventions that are theorized to be instrumental in helping with food waste reduction.


Genetic Engineering Labeling Effects: Evidence from Supermarket Scanner Data

Jura Liaukonyte, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and Aaron A. Adalja , School of Hotel Administration

The proposed research is the first known study to analyze how GE labels affect actual consumption behavior by consumers and strategic supply-side responses by firms in the U.S. Specifically, the researchers analyze the supply and demand effects of GE food labeling, using the implementation of mandatory labeling of GE food in Vermont as a quasi-natural experiment. Using retail scanner data, this work will employ difference-in-differences and synthetic control methods to analyze market outcomes such as product assortment and depth, and market share. By exploiting state-level variation and comparing market outcomes before and after the policy change, the GE labeling effect is directly identified. Furthermore, this study disentangles the media effect from the policy and labeling effect by utilizing a novel dataset that provides regional variation in media coverage across markets.

Business of Food - Small Research Grants (2018-2019 Awards)

The Effects of Media and Policy on the Supply and Demand for Restaurant Food

Aaron A. Adalja, Assistant Professor, Hotel School, aaa362@cornell.edu, Miguel I. Gómez, Associate Professor, Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, mig7@cornell.edu, and C.-Y. Cynthia Lin Lawell, Associate Professor, Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, clinlawell@cornell.edu

The goal of this proposal is to analyze demand and supply for restaurant food [in China] and to examine the effects of media and policy regarding food safety and food prices on consumer preferences and the supply and demand for restaurant food. To do so, a structural econometric model of demand and supply for restaurant food is developed and estimated.


The Last Mile Cold Chain Supply: Producers to Retail Outlets

Carl A. Batt, Professor, Department of Food Science, CALS, cab10@cornell.edu and Aaron A. Adalja, Assistant Professor, Food and Beverage Management, SHA, aaa362@cornell.edu

Small food producers especially in urban areas have a significant challenge in distribution and reaching their stockists in a cost-efficient and rapid fashion. The proposed study investigates this problem by examining current practices where logistics and infrastructure have been developed that allow for same-day grocery delivery. These observations and knowledge will then be applied to determine how a similar infrastructure might be built to assist small urban food producers reach a much wider retail and institutional market.


Bargaining on Trade Promotions between Manufacturers and Retailers in the Food Industry: Development of a Nash Model and Empirical Test

Vithala R. Rao, Deane W. Malott Professor of Management, Professor of Marketing and Quantitative Methods, Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management vrr2@cornell.edu and Koichi Yonezawa Research Associate, Food Industry Management Program, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, ky365@cornell.edu

In this project, the researchers will investigate the divergence between an optimal and realized outcome from trade promotions. This study will further investigate the correlates of the divergence between optimal values from the Nash bargaining model and actual decisions in the simulation. Findings from this study will allow manufacturers and retailers to design trade promotion agreements more effectively.


How Branding Influences Health- and Taste-Attribute Integration in Food-Choice

Kaitlin Woolley, Assistant Professor of Marketing, Johnson Graduate School of Management, krw67@cornell.edu and Geoffrey Fisher, Assistant Professor of Marketing, Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, gwf25@cornell.edu

The proposed research here examines the role of branding on the dynamic integration of health and taste attributes of restaurant meals. Using a novel form of mouse tracking, this work will examine how consumers incorporate perceptions of taste and health attributes of brands into their food choices, above and beyond the perceived healthiness and tastiness of the food item. This project is at the intersection of dietary self-control and consumer behavior, with implications for food marketers, consumer well-being, and nutritional policy.


For more information about the Business of Food Small Grants Program, please contact Kris Park.

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