PhD Social acceptance of fermented foods from waste streams

PhD Social acceptance of fermented foods from waste streams

Published Deadline Location
30 May 17 Jun Wageningen

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Job description

The Consumption and Healthy Lifestyle Group at Wageningen University and Research is looking for a curious, ambitious and highly motivated PhD candidate with a background in social sciences or food related disciplines for the NWO funded project ‘Production, Microbial Safety and Social Acceptance of Fermented Foods from Waste Streams (PROSAFE)’.

This project contributes to reduction of food waste by exploring how currently wasted edible parts of vegetables can become food products for consumers. In order to understand this process, the project looks at a range of actors in the food system, including vegetable producers, product developers, chefs and consumers.

You will investigate what factors influence consumers’ and supply chain actors' decisions about the use of vegetable waste and fermentation techniques. You will employ a range of mostly qualitative methods, including interviews with stakeholders, master classes with chefs, cooking workshops for consumers and consumption diaries. Based on your research, you will develop decision support tools to advance the use of vegetable waste as food. During the project you will collaborate with another PhD student with a background in microbiology who will investigate (in a complementary PhD project) the potential to develop new fermented food products made from bean sprout and mushroom side-streams.
The project

This project aims to valorise food-grade side-streams into new food products by means of fermentation. The project outcomes and outputs anticipate a reduction of food waste and revalue of food-grade waste to sustainably feed a growing population. To ensure that new fermented foods from side-streams are perceived favourably by consumers (e.g., edible and attractive), their preferences should be incorporated in decisions in the development of prototypes. At the same time, a broader cultural shift is needed, in which side-streams are more easily perceived as food. Therefore, the project gathers insights beyond fermentation of vegetable side-streams, among others on possibilities for increased familiarity with fermentation techniques. These cultural, economic, and social changes will accelerate the transition to a more circular and sustainable food system and support healthy eating patterns which will benefit public health and global sustainability goals. More information about the project can be found here.

You will work here
You will be supervised by Dr. Hilje van der Horst (WUR), Prof Dr Ir Ine. van der Fels-Klerx (WUR) and Prof Dr Ir Heidy den Besten (WUR). In addition, you will work in a project consortium with various partners, including several vegetable producers, and chef Chris Weij, who is a frontrunner in culinary fermentation, has authored various cookbooks on fermentation and conducts master classes for chefs as well as cooking workshops.


Wageningen University & Research


You have:
  • A completed master’s degree in a social science or food related discipline (Sociology, Anthropology, Human Nutrition, Food Science etc.);
  • Excellent writing and presenting skills;
  • Experience with or interest in qualitative research methods (interviews, observation);
  • Affinity with scientific research in the food domain;
  • Motivation to develop as an independent scientific researcher;
  • Willingness to be involved in teaching activities.
  • Good social skills.

For this position your command of the English language is expected to be at C1 level. Sometimes it is necessary to submit an internationally recognised Certificate of Proficiency in the English Language. More information can be found here.

Conditions of employment

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:
  • partially paid parental leave;
  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  • the option to accrue additional compensation / holiday hours by working more, up to 40 hours per week;
  • there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent pension scheme.

In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will receive a fully funded PhD position and you will be offered a course program tailored to your needs and the research team.

The gross salary for the first year is € 2.770 - per month rising to € 3.539,- in the fourth year in according to the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale P). This is based on a full-time working week of 38 hours. We offer a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended for the duration of the project if you perform well.

There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the “Best University” in the Netherlands for the 19th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad
Wageningen University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees.

Because we expect you to work and live in the Netherlands our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.
Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. We can assist you with any additional advice and information about for example helping your partner to find a job, housing, or schooling. Finally, certain categories of international staff may be eligible for a tax exemption on a part of their salary during the first five years in the Netherlands.


Wageningen University & Research

The mission of Wageningen University & Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialised research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment. With its roughly 30 branches, 7,600 employees (6,700 fte) and 13,100 students and over 150,000 participants to WUR’s Life Long Learning, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. The unique Wageningen approach lies in its integrated approach to issues and the collaboration between different disciplines.

Read the 5 reasons why your future colleagues enjoy working at WUR and watch the video below to get an idea of our green campus!

We will recruit for the vacancy ourselves, so no employment agencies please. However, sharing in your network is appreciated.


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • P1530637-1


Wageningen University & Research

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Droevendaalsesteeg, 6708 PB, Wageningen

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