Sizzle or Fizzle? Supply and Consumption Dynamics of Home Cooked Food on Sharing Platforms
23 Pages Posted: 16 Oct 2020
Date Written: August 27, 2020
Faced with the increasingly worsening obesity crisis, many governmental and non-governmental organizations have been promoting home cooking as a key part of the strategy to tackle poor quality diets and obesity. Home cooked food sharing platforms, as a quintessential illustration of the sharing economy, aim at improving public health by providing healthy food to those who do not have time to cook from home. Although the economic benefits derived from sharing economy are widely researched and acknowledged in theory and practice, however, the understanding about how sharing economy affects non-economic welfare (e.g., consumer health) is lacking. In a context of a home cooked food sharing platform, we conduct an empirical study to examine the question of whether sharing economy helps consumers to improve their dietary quality and develop healthy eating habits. We collected data from a popular Chinese mobile kitchen sharing platform and used manual coding and machine learning methods to measure food healthiness of over 180,000 unique dishes. We studied both food provision and consumption on the platform, and found that sellers receiving more orders and earning more revenue tend to reduce the provision of healthy food over time, while consumers who prefer healthy food are more likely to leave the platform. Our unfortunate findings indicate that without interventions, sharing economy may lead to negative and even harmful consequences because of the misaligned interests of home cooks and consumers.
Keywords: obesity, home cooked food, sharing economy, supply and demand
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