Behavioral Drivers of Food Choice in Eastern India


The proposed project aims to develop a context- and culture-specific framework to understand the behavioral drivers of food choice of a target population of urban and rural households in lower to middle socioeconomic classes in eastern India (West Bengal and Odisha). The framework is applied to the eastern Indian context through expert elicitation and further refined through consumer surveys to obtain detailed information on current food choice and awareness of, attitudes toward, and demand for quality, nutritional, and health attributes of food and nutrition-sensitive interventions. We further develop an interactive tablet application and conduct behavioral experiments with the target population to elicit and study behavioral change in food choice in response to nutrition-sensitive information and interventions within the framework. The experiments are designed to reveal the impact of gendered decision-making on food choice, behavioral change, and nutritional outcomes within the household. Data generated by these novel tools then feed into a detailed ex ante impact assessment of nutrition-sensitive interventions on nutrition security and health of the poor in eastern India. Through this novel combination of approaches, the project intends to aid policymakers in designing segmented, nutrition-sensitive intervention strategies that are gender-appropriate and high-impact.

Lead Institution

International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)

Collaborating Institutions

KIIT University, India

Principal Investigator(s)

> Matty Demont, PhD, Senior Economist, Market and Value Chain Research, International Rice Research Institute


> Rosa Paula Cuevas, PhD, Scientist-Sensory Profiling, Grain Quality and Nutrition Center, International Rice Research Institute

> Arindam Samaddar, PhD, Agricultural Anthropologist, International Rice Research Institute

> Marie Claire Custodio, MBA, Senior Associate Scientist I, Market and Value Chain Research, International Rice Research Institute

> Suva Mohanty, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Marketing, KIIT University

Peer-reviewed Publications 

Cuevas, R., De Guia, A. & Demont, M. (2017). “Developing a framework of gastronomic systems research to unravel drivers of food choice.” International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science, 9:88–99.

Posters and Presentations

1.“Improving Nutrition through Gastronomic Systems Research.” By Demont, M. Invited Plenary Lecture, FAO Regional Symposium on Sustainable Food Systems for Healthy Diets and Improved Nutrition in Asia and the Pacific, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Bangkok, Thailand, 10–11 November 2017.

2.“Feeding future cities through nutrition-sensitive food value chains.” By Demont, M. Urban-Rural Systems: Emerging Research at the Interface of Urbanisation and Agriculture, Contributed Event at Fifth International Rice Congress, Singapore, 14–17 October 2018.

3.“Drivers of food choice for improved nutrition in Eastern India.” By Custodio, M.C., Demont, M., Cuevas, R.P., Ynion, J., Samaddar, A. & Mohanty, S.K. Fifth International Rice Congress, Singapore, 14–17 October 2018.

4. “Contextualising food choice in the gastronomic system through expert elicitation.” By Samaddar, A., Cuevas, R.P., Custodio, M.C., Ynion, J., Mohanty, S.K. & Demont, M. Fifth International Rice Congress, Singapore, 14–17 October 2018.

5.  “Understanding systemic drivers of food choice to identify entry points for nutrition-sensitive interventions in eastern India.” By Cuevas, R.P., Custodio, M.C., Ynion, J., Samaddar, A., Mohanty, S.K. & Demont, M. Third Annual Agriculture, Nutrition and Health (ANH) Academy Week, Accra, Ghana, 25–29 June 2018.

Press Releases

“IRRI encourages India to eat healthier food choices.” FOODevolution, 8 December 2018.

“Nudging Indian households towards healthier food choices.” IRRI News, 3 December 2018.


DFC blog from Krystal Rampalli, Matty Demont, and Claire Custodio.


Expert elicitation workshops including presentation of preliminary results. By Demont, M. Bhubaneswar, Orissa and Kolkata, West Bengal. July 18 and 21, 2017.

Application: Food Choice Application (FCA): digital interface for capturing food choice in eastern India

Demont M., Custodio, M.C., Ynion, J., Samaddar, A., Cuevas, R., Ray (Chakravarti), A. & Mohanty, S.K. 2019. “What affects households’ food choice in West Bengal?” Geography and You, 19(24):26–30.