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Review article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Understanding food choice: A systematic review of reviews

Fernqvist, Fredrik; Spendrup, Sara; Tellstrom, Richard


The topic of consumer food choice has received much attention among researchers and stakeholders within the food industry. However, in order to better facilitate food consumption towards a more sustainable direction, we need increased knowledge and understanding of factors that influence consumers' food choice. This study is a systematic review of reviews conducted between 2017 and 2021, summarising and synthesising reviews on food choice. The aim is to provide an update of the current knowledge on consumer food choice, point out what is already known, and identify knowledge gaps to enable a prioritisation for future research. The analysis highlights decisive factors in food choice, i.e. product, available information, price, context, personal and group influences and sensory perceptions. The synthesis of findings follows a socioecological model, integrating four different levels of the social and environmental systems: the physical food environment, the social and community level, interpersonal relations and, finally, individual characteristics such as psychological and behavioural factors. Results show that behavioural patterns, influenced by strong informal institutions, such as culture and norms, can be difficult to break; for example, changing into more sustainable food behaviour. The findings suggest that more interdisciplinary research and studies in real-life settings are needed to grasp the complexity of food choice. This would allow for us to better understand consumers as social beings shaped by, among other things, the physical environment, social interactions, and culture.


Food choice; Consumer behaviour; Sustainability; Consumption

Published in

2024, Volume: 10, number: 12, article number: e32492
Publisher: CELL PRESS