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UC researcher investigates the impact of disruptions on food supply

Danielle Meddemmen

28 April 2021: Have you struggled to buy everything you need from the grocery store, because of panic-buying during the COVID-19 pandemic?

University of Canberra PhD student Rahanan Sathiyakumar is dedicating his research to tracking food consumption trends and improving the sustainable food system in the community in anticipation of future disruptions.

Mr Sathiyakumar, from the University’s Health Research Institute (HRI), is calling on Canberra consumers to take part in a short interview about their shopping habits.

“I am hoping to talk to consumers about their experiences buying food during both the Black Summer bushfires, and at the height of the pandemic,” he said.

“These interviews will then inform how food access or supply was affected during that time, and which groups were impacted most.”

Mr Sathiyakumar is hoping to speak with at least 30 Canberra consumers for the first part of his PhD project.

The second part of his project will see him interviewing local retailers about their supply chains and issues during those times.

“I am hoping to find any particular issues local shops had during those disruptions, and the importance of the neighbourhood supermarkets’ role in the local community,” he said.

Mr Sathiyakumar said he hopes the finalised project will paint a picture of food security within the Canberra region during 2020.

“Canberra was first hit by bushfires and then the COVID-19 pandemic, so this research will form an overall view of which pockets or groups had their purchasing and diets changed,” he said.

“Looking into the consumer behaviours and how they were changed will then form a case on how to best prepare ourselves in terms of food security for future disruptions.”

Mr Sathiyakumar said that eventually, his research could be tailored to certain districts, to help with reactions to future disruptions.

To get involved, and go in the draw for a chance to win one of five $50 food vouchers, contact, or take the online survey before 7 May 2021.