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Household Behavior on Food Security During an Economic Crisis

Irene Kamenidou, Konstantinos Rigas, and Constantinos-Vasilios Priporas


Food security as a concept attracts the attention of policy makers, practitioners, and academics around the world (Jones et al. 2013), as it is considered one of the key essentials of life (Priporas et al. (2015), since it is related to individual well-being (Magana-Lemus and Lara-Alvarez 2015) and because food scarcity or food insecurity can affect almost every facet of society (Jones et al. 2013). A household (microlevel) is considered food-secure when it has the ability to acquire the food needed by its members (Pinstrup-Andersen 2009). Timmer (2012) asserts that under-

I. Kamenidou (h) • K. Rigas

Department of Business Administration, Technological Educational Institute (T.E.I.) of Kavala, Kavala, 65404, Greece e-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

C.-V. Priporas

Department of Marketing, Branding & Tourism, Middlesex University, Business School, Hendon Campus, The Burroughs, London, NW4 4BT, UK

© The Author(s) 2017

G. Mergos, M. Papanastassiou (eds.), Food Security and Sustainability, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-40790-6_14

standing the behavioral dimensions of food security is an important step in learning how to prevent food crises.

The recent global economic crisis in 2008 and the considerable increase in food prices have vitalized international debate and reopened the debate on food security (Solaroli 2014). The Economist Intelligence Unit (2012) points out that food security is still a challenge in many Mediterranean countries, especially the southern and eastern ones. This is also documented in the study by Pfeiffer, Ritter, and Oestreicheret (2015) which indicates that in Greece around 18 % in 2012 answered “Yes” to the question “Have there been times in the past twelve months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?”, while in 2006-07 that figure was under 10 %. On the other hand, in non-Mediterranean European countries there was a considerable decline in domestic food shortages; in Germany it declined from around 7 % to under 5 % and in the UK from 10 % to around 8 %.

The concept of food security has been used extensively at the household level as a measure of welfare and attempts have been made to make the concept operationally useful in the design, implementation, and evaluation of programs, projects, and policies (Pinstrup-Andersen 2009). Past studies have centered on developing nations (e.g., Atkinson 1995; Floro and Swain 2013; Maxwell 1995; Zezza and Tasciotti 2010); however, for developed countries it is much less researched (e.g., Coleman- Jensen, Gregory and Singh 2014; Pfeiffer et al. 2015), especially from an economic perspective. Hampson and McGoldrick (2013) point out that empirical research on consumer behavior (at individual or household level) during the economic crisis remains limited.

To fill this gap, the aim of this chapter is to discuss the empirical findings of a study on the impact of the ongoing economic crisis in Greece on households’ perception of food security, and the actions undertaken by households in order to be food-secure. More specifically, the research objectives are threefold and aim to identify the following:

  • 1. The impact of the ongoing economic crisis on households
  • 2. The actions taken by households to protect their members so as to be


3. Household segments based on their food security actions

This chapter is further organized as follows. The next section presents the theoretical background to the concept of food security followed by a brief discussion of the economic crisis in Greece. Subsequently, the methodology and a discussion of the study’s findings are presented. Finally, the last section presents the main conclusions, the limitations of the study, and policy implications.

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