"WFC Experience puts Foodvalley on the map even more."

“The WFC Experience is a great project that not only makes visitors aware but also gives the area an economic boost, in addition to what is happening in Wageningen. With the WFC Experience we put everything that is happening here in the Foodvalley on the map once again. We asked him for his opinion about the World Food Center and the involvement of the province of Gelderland.

WFC Experience meets needs

“Attention to our food and where it comes from is important. Just like ensuring that there is enough food in the future. For that you have to look at where in the world food production is possible. We are blessed in the Netherlands with healthy soil and a good climate. This means that we must contribute to food production here. Not only for ourselves, but also for others. "

"We want to make people think with the WFC Experience," continues Drenth. “Having enough food is not normal everywhere in the world. A loaf or a pack of milk does not roll out of the factory like that. Be aware of where your food comes from and that you have to pay a fair price for it. If we want agriculture to produce food in a different, sustainable way, then that starts with what we as consumers demand. And that again depends on what we know and feel. "

“Food and agriculture are important sectors for the Gelderland economy. The World Food Center confirms our leading position. "


One of the strong points of the WFC Experience is that it focuses on consumers and food. Drenth: “It is new and unique. It puts Gelderland on the map as a food region, nationally and internationally. In addition, it is nice that so many come together: business, government, education, research and the ordinary consumer. This is the first time that we have been doing this, so it is always exciting what it will look like. "

“The World Food Center must really be the calling card of our knowledge and expertise in the field of food. But the greatest opportunity lies in involving consumers in the food issue. And for me, that includes the discussion about the climate. "

Food and agriculture important for Gelderland

“Food and agriculture are important sectors for the Gelderland economy. We also have a world-class knowledge institution with Wageningen University & Research. We want to ensure that this region continues to lead the world. "

“Gelderland has been involved in the plans for the World Foopd Center from the very beginning. By bringing the Experience into an independent foundation, the province will be a little more remote. That was deliberately chosen. It is not up to us as a province to set up and exploit an Experience. But because of the importance we attach to the Experience, we have made sure that our interests are also taken into account in further development. In this way we will certainly continue to send in the next three years, in good consultation with the Foundation. With agreements that are laid down in, for example, the subsidy conditions and the articles of association of the Foundation. In addition, we have confidence in the Advisory Board, which advises us solicited and unsolicited, just as in previous phases. The Advisory Council is the guardian of the ideas to which we as a province have committed ourselves. ”



'You don't change consumer behavior with information alone'

As a social psychologist and senior researcher at Wageningen Economic Research, Marleen Onwezen is daily concerned with why consumers make sustainable and healthy choices and how we can influence and guide them. What role does knowledge play in relation to emotion? And how important are social norms, personal values and habits?

The World Food Center Experience has the explicit purpose of making people more aware of how our food is produced and how certain food choices specifically affect our environment or our own health. How does Marleen Onwezen see the possibilities of the WFC Experience when it comes to behavioral change among consumers?

Marleen Onwezen

Great opportunity for consumer research
“I think that the plans for the World Food Center Experience, as I know them now, certainly have potential. Both for raising the awareness of certain groups of consumers and also for targeted consumer research. There is a trend going on to involve citizens more and more in the development of products or policies. That helps with its acceptance. We are still slightly behind this in research. But here too we see a trend towards citizen science, co-creation and participation. By interacting closely with different groups of consumers, you can conduct research more efficiently and find ways to include input from different groups of consumers in research. It can also increase consumer involvement and help increase the support of science. "

"At the same time, you should continue to look at how representative the results are in such research and whether you yourself are already influencing behavior through the research itself."

Consumers decide more on feeling and emotion than on arguments
“The consumer's choice behavior with regard to food is fairly complex. On the one hand there are rational considerations in which cognitive factors play a role (what are the ingredients in this product and what does it cost?) And on the other there are the emotional and social components. In many ways, eating is a social activity and emotion plays a major role. So you can explain why certain behavior should be adjusted better, but respond to the emotion and let people experience what differences in behavior mean, works much better. ”

The new normal
“People are creatures of habit that very much like to confirm themselves to earlier behavior, but also to what is socially desirable or acceptable. Take the protein transition, for example. It is rationally recognized that eating less meat offers several major benefits. Just as good for health as it is for animal welfare and sustainability. And more and more good meat substitutes are becoming available.

Yet the switch from the consumer is still going very slowly. The early adopters are now over, but as long as eating meat on a daily basis is still the norm for many people, the switchover will not take place quickly. Only when many more people reduce meat consumption, and it becomes less and less 'normal', you will see that it goes faster. And for many people, the first acceptable meat substitutes are the products that most resemble meat, such as meat substitutes that look huge or meat or potentially cultured meat. This is the easiest way for consumers to switch. The experience that visitors experience in the WFC Experience therefore has the greatest effect if it fits in well with the already present perception of the visitors. ”

Who are those visitors?
“How you do this also depends on the people who come there. Are the visitors, as it were, already pre-programmed for the will to change? Or is it really an average of the population? Because the Experience wants to be explicitly accessible to the general public, this also requires a diversity of messages and experiences. ”

“Of course that is very interesting for us as researchers. This offers enormous opportunities to engage in a conversation with a less innovative and progressive group. To provide the right message with the right tools to make the click. Entertainment and emotions to make sure that the broad story lands. Precisely to catch that group that would not open itself to it. This is a matter of fine-tuning in order to arrive at the best possible information and experience plan, where you must continue to observe and measure to find out what the effective triggers are now. ”

Involve researchers in design Experience
“It is good that even in the first phase, scientists are already involved in the design and organization of the Experience. On the one hand, you can use existing knowledge about information transfer and behavioral change, while at the same time creating an environment in which additional research is possible so that these techniques can be further refined. For example, innovative ways of transferring information and imaging, and a lot of room for random testing are necessary. Ideally, you should also be able to track individual respondents so that you can classify them into specific groups. With virtual worlds for different groups, who then see different things and gain different experiences. The layouts and set-ups must be flexible in such a way that you can constantly adjust and adjust. ”

Great opportunity for consumer research
“The large group of people who come to the Experience every day naturally offers a huge opportunity for targeted consumer behavior research. The tension between on the one hand wanting to conduct reliable and valid research and on the other hand actually wanting to involve and involve visitors is also very interesting. How do you deal with that? And how do you deal with representativeness?

Many questions therefore still remain for the researchers, but in the first instance the WFC Experience offers great opportunities for raising consumer awareness as well as for conducting research in an intensive and innovative way with the cooperation of those same consumers. It is good that we, as WUR, have been involved from the very beginning, so that together we can use the potential of the WFC Experience. ”

UN climate panel warns of imminent food shortage

The UN Climate Panel (IPCC) concludes in her latest report that there is a global food shortage due to climate change. It talks about a completely untenable way in which people deal with land. Degraded, eroded agricultural lands, cut forests, disappeared flora and fauna, expanding deserts and drained peat lands: the natural system no longer uses CO2 but expel it.

At the same time, the report says that at least one third of the solutions for climate change can be achieved with better land use. Through more sustainable farming methods, with less use of fertilizer and chemicals, more careful use of soils and the protection and restoration of forests and wetlands.

Consumers can actively help

In addition, consumers can also do a lot themselves, for example by eating less meat and wasting less food (one third of the food worldwide is wasted).

Louise Fresco, chairman of the Executive Board and professor of Food Technology at Wageningen University & Research, tells at the NOS that the agricultural sector and training have already devised various ways to increase food production in a sustainable way. it also sees an important role for consumers themselves.

"We will undoubtedly have a smart fridge in the future," says Fresco. “One who knows exactly what we need as an individual and who can order automatically via the internet if desired. More on the basis of knowledge than on the basis of tradition, that will be the big change. ”

That the changes, however, are not going as fast as hoped turned out this week at the bankruptcy application of two Texel companies, specializing in the cultivation of salty crops. While the Climate Panel the presents salty crop cultivation as one of the solutions to cope with the effects of climate change. In the Netherlands alone, an estimated 125,000 hectares of land are becoming increasingly salty and worldwide large areas have therefore become unusable for conventional agriculture. The companies filed for bankruptcy due to insufficient demand for the products. 

September 30: debate on circular agriculture

How can science make the difference and what is involved? In collaboration with the Advisory Council for Science, Technology and Innovation (AWTI) and the Education Council, the Rathenau Institute is organizing a series of three public debates about the future of science.

The second debate of this trilogy, on 30 September in the WFC, looks at the rich history of the agri-food sector. The Netherlands has developed a global top position both in science and economically and is now facing the challenge of developing circular agriculture. Can we also use the impact that science had on the development of our food production in other sectors?

Including scientists from universities and colleges, farmers and knowledge-intensive companies, and innovation experts. Martin Scholten from Wageningen University provides an introduction to the debate.

Monday, September 30, 7 p.m. - 9 p.m. World Food Center, Nieuwe Kazernelaan 2-D42, 6711 JC Ede.

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