Exploring the potential of using nudges to promote food hygiene in the pork value chain in Vietnam

Interventions designed to reduce the burden of foodborne illness often require value chain actors to alter undesired and risky behaviours. This desired behavioural change may be supported by ‘nudge theory’, a sub-field of behavioural economics, which describes how individuals can be encouraged, or ‘nudged’, to act in ways which produce net societal benefits without restricting freedom of choice. This research aimed to investigate the use of nudges in the pork value chain in Vietnam. Key informant interviews (n = 12) were initially utilised to document the type of nudges being used within existing food safety interventions, followed by a questionnaire-based survey (n = 132) to describe the behavioural elements of pork value chain actors which could be amenable to nudging. Finally, a workshop was conducted to measure the response of stakeholders (n = 30) to various nudge elements which could be used to support future food safety interventions. Key informant interviews demonstrated that the use of behavioural nudges were a common aspect of food safety interventions in the pork value chain in Hanoi and Hung Yen Province. Survey participants reported that when considering food safety, veterinarians and actors’ peers were highly trusted, and reputation was thought to be an effective incentive to illicit behavioural change. During the workshop, stakeholders appeared aware of the major slaughter and retail contamination points and cited lack of access to improved infrastructure as the limiting factor in their ability to improve hygiene. Value chain actors reported positive responses to the concept of using posters containing photographic images as nudges and stipulated that media should reflect the local context and contain language framed to suit the target audience. We suggest that the findings of this study are used to create site specific nudges for the Vietnamese pork industry targeting key value chain actors, such slaughterhouse workers and traditional retailers, which should be tested in the field to investigate their effectiveness.