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COMFOCUS project, funded under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Programme aims to progress the EU food consumer science community by integrate key European research infrastructures in the inherently multidisciplinary field of food consumer science, in order to promote their optimal use and joint development.

How virtual and transnational access to research infrastructure advances food consumer science:
The 2020 way of conducting consumer science (Brian)

For his study on consumer acceptance of healthier supermarket environments, Brian answers his research question by drawing on a variety of research papers each using their own idiosyncratic measurements and research protocols. He designs his stimulus materials from scratch. The research tools he adopts are largely restricted by the installations available within his own university lab, that is hardly run as a professional research infrastructure. This is why he chose to work from self-report data, collect data only in his own country, using self-developed scenarios and pictures mimicking healthier food shelves. Conclusions are drawn, the paper is published, and the data are stored locally and (made) available only on explicit request. Policy makers and researchers from retail industry appreciate the paper, but lack substantial insights on trends in consumer acceptance of changes in supermarket environments over time and the extent to which results are generalizable to other countries and types of consumers and stores.

The 2025 way of conducting consumer science (Betty)

For her study on consumer acceptance of healthier supermarket environments, Betty uses virtual access to the COMFOCUS Knowledge platform. She types in the key words “supermarket” and “health interventions” and gets a clear overview of all recent and relevant studies done across European research infrastructures. She is particularly intrigued by the Virtual Reality headset with integrated eye tracker installation. Although Betty’s research infrastructure does not provide those installations, she is guided towards several key European research infrastructures where such technology is (made) available. She selects and contacts two colleagues from these research infrastructures to suggest joint research. Betty collects her data using stimulus materials that (partly) overlap with others, and adhering to the COMFOCUS-developed protocols for measurement and research procedures. She answers her own research question leading to a scientific publication. Thanks to the COMFOCUS meta-data structure, her data are now made FAIR, which means they can easily be linked to other data within the infrastructure. She also sends some suggestions to the COMFOCUS research infrastructure to extend the ontology with some new concepts. For Betty, this freely available extended dataset provides the inspiration for a new collaborative research project with her European colleagues, in which they analyse cross-cultural and longitudinal consumer responses to a variety of supermarket interventions to encourage healthier eating. The resulting paper provides actionable, useful and scalable solutions and within a short time frame, it has an impact on retail innovation and public policy.

Inviting all to join the starting European food consumer science community and change the quality of food research using our modern facilities.

COMFOCUS Open calls are offering virtual and transnational access to key European research infrastructures in the multidisciplinary field of food consumer science linked to healthy eating based on your original and innovative research proposal related to exploring the motivational factors in healthy eating, including interest in food products and services that are aimed to support healthy eating.

In COMFOCUS Open call #1 the Easy Questionnaire Tool (EQT) will be made virtual accessible to applicants. The online EQT offers users the opportunity to create pan-European questionnaires on self-reported measures in a harmonized, FAIR and RRI proof way. Meaning that each user will create its own questionnaire, fitting their own research question and aim, but can make use of the database of the EQT that includes harmonized measures on socio-demographics, psycho-social consumer characteristics, etc.

Applications open 1 May 2022

Deliverable 4.1: Guideline for Harmonisation of measures and protocols linking to other infrastructure and data bases

COMFOCUS is proposing a set of 8 minimum level Socio-Demographics (SD) concepts:

to enable comparison across study populations.

The goal is to harmonise SD measures linking to other infrastructure and data bases and propose the means/methods through which SD can be captured across studies and countries in a way that will enable comparison across study populations and dataset.

This will be important for COMFOCUS to explore the minimum level of overlap of SD measures that will be required for the effective fusion of future datasets and the extent to which it is scientifically valid to fuse different datasets across different concepts, populations and contexts.

WORKSHOP Harmonising self-report FCS approaches

This workshop took place online on January 11th, 2022. The event purpose was to gather feedback from the COMFOCUS community on what are the priorities for the remaining work in harmonising self-report measures in surveys studying factors related to food-choices, in order to create comparable data across different studies and build a base of protocols that will be applied in different survey methods with a special emphasis on questionnaire-based studies.

COMFOCUS Annual Meeting

Date: 1st till 3rd of February 2022

The overall aim of this first annual project meeting is twofold. First, we want to develop a shared/coherent vision on the results and outcomes of COMFOCUS, and second, we want to get clarity on interlinkages and dependencies between Networking Activities (NA), Joint Research Activities (JRA) and Virtual and Transnational access (VA/TNA) of the project.



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COMFOCUS project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement nº 101005259. The website represents the view of the author only and is his/her sole responsibility: it cannot be considered to reflect the views of the European Commission and/or the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA). The European Commission and the Agency do not accept responsibility for the use that may be made of the information it contains.

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