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‘Love Food, Hate Waste’ Advocate Wins Research Award

A Canterbury marketing academic promoting sustainable and healthy eating in the era of climate change has been recognised for her leading-edge work.

Dr Joya Kemper from the University of Canterbury’s Business School has won an Early and Emerging Career Researcher Award

Dr Joya Kemper, from Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury (UC) Business School, has received an Early and Emerging Career Researcher Award from the University.

The award recognises her outstanding contribution in the areas of sustainable and responsible marketing, sustainable eating and behaviour, and social change for sustainable development.

“My focus is on moving towards a circular economy that’s inclusive and equitable. That’s the umbrella that all of my research falls under,” Dr Kemper says. “I look at behaviour change and what enables or inhibits that. For example, what changes need to be made to infrastructure and business to help people make more sustainable choices, and what does a sustainable, equitable food system look like for New Zealand?”

Her research explores topics such as meat reduction, alternative proteins, food waste, sustainable packaging, climate change anxiety and obesity.

She is determined that this work will lead to real, practical change and strives to collaborate with industry and other organisations towards that goal. In 2023, she joined the Advisory Board of Love Food Hate Waste NZ, a national campaign to prevent food waste.

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“I’m a practical person, I like to use theory to inform research and understanding that contributes to solutions for the real world,” she says. “We don’t have time for incremental change, we need radical change as we are in a climate emergency.”

After studying Commerce at the University of Canterbury she considered a corporate career until she started thinking critically about consumption and the role businesses play.

“I’m interested in transformative education. I want to find out what shifts the needle and influences people in their everyday lives, and influences businesses to be more sustainable,” she says.

“People see marketing as promoting over-consumption, but you can use the same principles that persuade someone to buy a can of fizzy drink to convince them to purchase a healthier, more sustainable product. I’m interested in how we refuse and reuse products as well as rethinking consumption in general.”

Dr Kemper is an Associated Researcher on an $11.7 million Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment Endeavour Fund (2022-2027) project on the circular economy of plastics, and a $1.2 million Health Research Council project (2021-2024) examining alcohol warning labels.

In 2021, she was the Principal Investigator on a Worldwide Universities Network Research Development Fund exploring changes in sustainable and healthy food practices in response to Covid-19 in vulnerable families, collaborating with United Kingdom colleagues.

Dr Kemper has won several awards recognising her research contribution, including the New Zealand Business Research Translation Early Career Researcher Award (2018 and 2022) and a UC Highly Commended Advancing Sustainability Research Award.

She recently returned to Aotearoa New Zealand after spending five months on an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development-funded fellowship in the Netherlands, based at Wageningen University & Research, for a food waste project exploring stakeholder interaction.

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