News • 12.05.2023

University of Bayreuth: Supermarket of the Future

A board game for creative engagement with novel foods

The labeling of novel foods with the aim of promoting sustainable consumption decisions is currently a much-discussed topic in science, industry and politics. The Simon Nüssel Foundation has recently started funding an unusual research project under the Chair of Food Law at the University of Bayreuth. The goal is to develop a board game called "Supermarket of the Future". Players will learn about innovative food products and how they can and should make informed consumer decisions. Science and politics can gain new insights into the practice of food labeling through the game.

Green figures and coins on a game board
Source: Jaciel Melnik / Unsplash

The board game, which will be developed over the next few months under the direction of Prof. Dr. Kai Purnhagen, will give participants the opportunity to shape their own supermarket as consumers. Greater awareness of foods that are likely to be part of people’s daily diet in the future enables them to engage with "novel foods", and the legal regulation thereof, in a tangible way. Two teams play against one another, and no special knowledge about the content and production of food is required. The average knowledge of adult consumers is sufficient. In the current conception of the "Supermarket of the Future", there is no team that emerges from the game as the winner – it is all about learning.

Play, watch, learn

The game will be designed to support research in the field of food science and technology: Within the framework of empirical studies, scientists will be given the opportunity to observe the players as they make their decisions and how they are influenced, not least, by food labels. However, the systematic collection of data concerning these decision-making processes will not only be informative for researchers. At the same time, it is also meant to stimulate policy makers to increasingly incorporate consumers' views and preferences into future legal regulations. With these broader goals in mind, the Kulmbach team working under the Chair of Food Law intends to collaborate with experts from other fields, such as the psychology of consumer behaviour. In the young research field of design thinking, cooperation with the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam is planned.

"We are very pleased about the financial support for our innovative project. The board game 'Supermarket of the Future' has the potential to sustainably change our attitudes towards food and food labelling. It will help us to reflect on our own ideas about innovative foods and to pursue the complex question of how supermarkets of the future should look," says project leader Prof. Dr. Kai Purnhagen. "We also want our board game to be perceived as a tool for critical thinking and to be used to initiate debates about novel foods at the political level as well and to support decisions regarding relevant regulations," adds Alexandra Molitorisová, who is supervising the project as a research associate in the research group of Food Law.

The board game "Supermarket of the Future" – as soon as its development is completed – will also be included in other research projects carried out by the Chair of Food Law, especially in areas of innovative food law and alternative proteins. In addition, it can be used for scientific studies from other disciplines covered in Kulmbach. It can also be made available to other educational institutions and public agencies upon request.  

Source: University of Bayreuth

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