(Un)Sustainable Food Consumption Dynamics in South/Southeast Asia: Changing Patterns, Practices and Policies among “New Consumers” in India and the Philippines

What are the consumption patterns of the growing middle classes in emerging countries? What are the environmental and social impacts of these practices? How can more sustainable consumption pathways be reached?


In emerging economies and among the growing middle classes, changing labour markets and production processes along with rising purchasing power is translating to a moving up on the energy and protein ladder. The consumption patterns of these new consumers raise concern among policy-makers and researchers in terms of environmental impact and social inequalities.

Very little empirical data exists at the sub-national level on the challenges and opportunities their consumption patterns actually represent and what role households might play in charting transitions to more sustainable patterns.

This research project will contribute new and inter-disciplinary research on the dynamics of consumption patterns, practices and policies among new consumers in two mega-cities of South and Southeast Asia: Bangalore, India, and Metro Manila, the Philippines.

This project is timely relevant, as the global economic slowdown will affect job opportunities in emerging economies, where concerns about wage and employment prospects have already subdued household consumption – which in turn may have unfavourable effects for promoting more sustainable forms of consumption.

While the research is city-specific, consumption must also be understood against the backdrop of change and continuity in the broader world system, including the labour market, migration and remittances, and global media flows.

This project proposes an approach that is relevant to studying consumption in other contexts and proposes research findings that will transcend the local to offer insights into how social practices emerge in a context of globalisation – towards a deeper understanding of sustainable consumption pathways.


  • Sustainable consumption
  • Development


  • Anthropology
  • Development
  • Environment


International Organisations:

  • International Labour Organisation (ILO)
  • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
  • World Economic Forum (WEF)

Relevant Countries

  • India
  • Philippines


This project, started in 2012, has been completed.

Contact the project team

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Research team

Suren Erkman
Université de Lausanne

Shalini Randeria
Universität Zürich

Marlyne Sahakian
Université de Lausanne

Sunayana Ganguly
Principal Member
Freie Universität Berlin

Christine Lutringer
Principal Member
Ecole Polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne

Czarina Saloma Akpeduno
Principal Member
Ateneo de Manila University – Quezon City

Arab Hoballah
Associated Member
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Randall Krantz
Associated Member
World Economic Forum (WEF)

Uma Rani
Associated Member
International Labour Organisation