ESIC Market


Exploring the nexus between sustainability and food events

María Torrejón Ramos

PhD Scholar

Rey Juan Carlos University

María Sonia Medina Salgado

Rey Juan Carlos University

Received: 21-09-2023; Acepted: 03-01-2024; Published: 19-01-2024


Objective: Food tourism can have social, economic, and environmental benefits. However, its environmental impact is high. Food festivals need to be managed in a sustainable perspective that reduces their environmental footprint and contributes to the economic and social development of communities. This article aims to describe the literature linking food events and sustainability, to pave the way for further research to contribute to sustainable development.

Methodology: The PRISMA model is used to structure and document the conducted review. A descriptive and narrative analysis will be carried out by analysing time, impact of journals, main authors, and methodological characteristics. Finally, the main objectives, contributions and limitations are highlighted.

Results: The search reveals a scarce literature on the subject. The studies are mostly empirical and use different analytical techniques. However, it is difficult to generalise the results. In addition, there is a paucity of articles dealing exclusively with waste management, which calls for progress in this area of research. There is a need for further research in this area. There is an opportunity for publication by young researchers or for the development of new lines of research.

Limitations: The information could be extended by using other databases and analysed with bibliometric or content analysis software.

Practical implications: This study gathers information that can help organisers of food events to identify sustainable practices and reduce their environmental impact.
Keywords: Sustainability; Food-Events; Descriptive-analysis; Narrative-analysis

JEL Codes: Q53; Z32

Explorando el nexo entre la sostenibilidad y los eventos gastronómicos


Objetivo: El turismo gastronómico puede ser beneficioso desde el punto de vista social, económico y medioambiental. Sin embargo, su impacto ambiental es elevado. Los festivales gastronómicos deben gestionarse desde una perspectiva sostenible que reduzca su huella ambiental y contribuya al desarrollo de las comunidades desde el punto de vista económico y social. Este artículo pretende describir la bibliografía que relaciona los eventos gastronómicos y la sostenibilidad con el fin de abrir el camino a nuevas investigaciones que contribuyan al desarrollo sostenible.

Metodología: Se utiliza el modelo PRISMA para sistematizar y documentar la revisión realizada. Se realiza un análisis descriptivo y narrativo realizando un análisis temporal, el impacto de las revistas, los autores principales y las características metodológicas. Por último, se destacan los principales objetivos, aportaciones y limitaciones.

Resultados: La búsqueda muestra una escasa literatura sobre el tema. Los estudios son mayoritariamente empíricos y utilizan diferentes técnicas de análisis. Sin embargo, es difícil generalizar los resultados. Además, apenas hay artículos dedicados íntegramente a la gestión de residuos, lo que hace necesario avanzar en esta área de investigación. Muestra una oportunidad de publicación para investigadores noveles o para abrir nuevas líneas de investigación.

Limitaciones: La información podría ampliarse utilizando otras bases de datos y analizarse con programas bibliométricos o de análisis de contenido.

Implicaciones prácticas: Este estudio recopila información que puede ayudar a los organizadores de eventos gastronómicos a identificar prácticas sostenibles y reducir su impacto ambiental.
Palabras clave: Sostenibilidad; Eventos gastronómicos; Análisis descriptivo; Análisis narrativo

Códigos JEL: Q53; Z32



研究目标: 美食旅游可以带来社会发展、经济和环境效益。然而,它对环境的影响很大。食品节需要从可持续的角度进行管理,以减少其对环境的足迹,并有助于社区的经济和社会发展。本文章的主要目的为美食活动与可持续性的文献联系起来,为之后的研究可持续发展。

分析方法: 本研究使用了Prisma模型构建和记录所进行的文献回顾。通过分析时间、科学期刊的影响、主要作者和分析方法的特征,进行了描述性和叙事性分析。最后,强调了主要目标、贡献和限制。

调查结果: 搜索文献时发现关于这个主题的文献很少。大多的研究是实证研究,并使用了不同的分析方式。然而,很难概括结果。此外,专门涉及废品管理的文章很少,文献需在这一研究领域取得进展和进一步研究。因此此领域可提供给年轻的研究人员发表论文张和发展新的研究领域。

研究局限: 本研究收集的信息可以通过使用其他数据库进行扩展,并使用文献计量或内容分析软件进行分析。

实际应用: 这项研究收集的信息可以帮助美食活动的主办者确定合理利用资源的习惯并减少其对环境的影响。

关键词: 持续性; 美食活动; 描述性分析; 叙事分析

JEL 代码: Q53; Z32

1. Introduction

In recent years, food tourism has followed a growing trend in the academic world (Björk & Kauppinen-Raisanen, 2016). There is a classification of culinary tourism resources proposed by Smith and Xiao (2008), which is based on the uniqueness of the local culinary culture and thus inherently carries the destination brand. The three categories proposed by the authors are farmers' markets, local festivals and local restaurants (Silkes, 2012). Due to the numerous benefits that food festivals bring to the destinations where they are held, more and more events of this type are being organised around the world (Folgado-Fernandez et al., 2019). Direct economic benefits and the development of a positive image that creates resilient links between visitors and destinations can be highlighted as significant contributions (Folgado-Fernandez et al., 2017). In addition, changes that characterise human reality can be perceived through gastronomic events. The event itself can lead to the promotion of a new culture of social, sensory, economic and environmental experiences (Fassio, 2017). For this reason, food festival tourism is recognised as one of the future trends in tourism development. Especially those that take place in the context of sustainable destinations based on local products and quality craftsmanship (López-Guzmán et al., 2017; Folgado-Fernández et al., 2019). According to de Jong and Varley (2018)

sustainability itself is often broadly conceived within the framework of policies that proclaim the benefits of food and event tourism, and there is a need to further deconstruct the ways in which each dimension of sustainability - economic, environmental, social and cultural - manifests itself. (p. 1)

In the context of environmental sustainability, Laing and Frost (2010) define a “green event” as one that is based on sustainable policies and managed or planned to use environmentally sustainable practices (Wong et al., 2015). Managing a green event can be complicated, as it may not have the support of all stakeholders. In this sense, information that supports the need and desirability of holding such an event will help to highlight the overall impact of a green event, both in economic and environmental terms (Laing & Frost, 2010). Silkes (2012) recommends strategies to improve facilities and the quality of food on offer so that communities can maintain the tourism and cultural quality of the area.

One of the green practices that organisers need to consider is waste management. The implementation of practices related to waste management, such as water, energy, waste or even the use of sustainable textiles, is common when organising food festivals in Europe (Csapody et al., 2021). However, depending on the country, sustainability regulations may vary or even be absent, as is the case in Latin America compared to Europe (Pinar-Alvarez, 2022).

The tourism industry is experiencing a shift towards experiential travel, which includes food and beverage events (Okumus, 2021). The scientific community will need to address challenges such as waste, health, and environmental impact in the near future. Furthermore, although festival organisers have increasingly adopted green practices, there has been limited research on the environmental decision-making process at festivals (Kim & Kim, 2018). These ideas indicate a growing interest in studying sustainability in food events. However, the bibliography on this topic appears limited and focused on specific events. Therefore, descriptive bibliographic studies are necessary to learn about the advances in this field. Collaboration between academia and industry can be crucial for promoting sustainable development. It is necessary to guide research on the fundamental aspects of this type of tourism activity. This can assist related businesses in developing new sustainable strategies to promote social, economic, and environmental development. For this reason, the main objective of this paper is to describe the existing literature on sustainability in food events. To this end, the following research questions (RQ) will be answered:

RQ1: Which journals and authors have published articles on sustainability in food events?

RQ2: What are the methodological characteristics of the articles on sustainability in food events?

RQ3: What are the topics of the articles on sustainability in food events?

To answer the first question, we used a descriptive analysis to identify the relevant journals and authors. To answer the second question, we analyse the methodological characteristics of the literature (type, data source and technique). And to answer the third question, a narrative analysis of the selected previous works will be carried out (purpose, main contributions, and limitations). Once these objectives have been met, we will be in a better position to (guide) new research on sustainability in food events.

The authors of this paper aim to shed light on the research so that future researchers can continue with the topic and move towards a sustainable future, contributing significantly to the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda.

The paper is structured as follows. After the introduction already presented, the methodology used is explained, divided into different phases and the adaptation of the PRISMA process. The results of the descriptive and narrative analysis of the literature are then presented, followed by the discussion and conclusions.

2. Methodology

This study is a descriptive and narrative analysis of the literature on sustainability in food events. The PRISMA methodology is used in literature reviews to ensure transparency in the criteria and rationale for conducting the review (Ciapponi, 2021). To ensure the openness and replicability of the study, the authors followed an adaptation of the (PRISMA) model (Moher et al., 2010). The stages of the process have been adapted to the characteristics of the project and can be seen in Figure 1. The methodological process of this research can be divided into three stages: data collection, descriptive analysis, and finally narrative analysis. The stages are described below:

Figure 1. Methodology Process (Adapted PRISMA)

Source: Own elaboration.

2.1. First Stage: Data Collection

The aim of the study is to find out what has been researched to date in the current research area, so the Web of Science (WoS) was chosen because of its strong coverage since 1990. In addition, although other databases such as Scopus contain a larger number of journals, the impact is lower and the articles are more recent (Chadegani et al., 2013). For this reason, and to be able to delve deeper over time, WoS was selected.

On 20th of June 2023, a general search of the WoS database was initiated to begin the study of the existing scientific production of food events. In this way, filtering by topic, the following keywords were introduced in the WoS advanced search engine “Food Event OR Food Festival OR Gastronomic Event OR Gastronomic Festival OR Culinary Event OR Culinary Festival”, yielding a result of 333 documents. To refine the search, it was decided to filter by “Article”, “Proceeding Paper” or “Early Access”, which yielded 315 documents. After observing the sample, the authors decided to refine the search towards the topic studied and carried out the same search but added the keyword sustainability. The raw result was 27 documents and after filtering (by document type and topic) the sample is 26. After analysing the sample, one document was discarded because it was a review and another because it was not related to the topic studied. Therefore, the final sample consists of 24 articles.

2.2. Second Stage: Descriptive Analysis

A descriptive analysis was used to identify the main authors, journals, as well as methodological characteristics (Corrales-Garay et al., 2019). Therefore, in the second step, a descriptive analysis of the sample of 24 articles is carried out. Firstly, their temporal analysis allows us to identify how long the topic has been of interest and whether there is a peak or trough in production. In this case, finding out why can provide valuable information for researchers. In the same section, the places that have been the subject of research are analysed, with the aim of finding out whether these studies can be replicated in countries with similar characteristics, or whether there is an area that has not been much researched, thus discovering a research gap. Secondly, the impact of the journals that published the articles in the sample is analysed. In our case, we use two of the most important and respected rankings: Journal Citation Reports (JCR) and Scimago Journal & Country Rank (SJR). Thirdly, it is determined how many authors are publishing or have published articles and who are the most productive. Once identified, some key data about them (origin, affiliation, department, and number of articles) are analysed. Finally, the methodological characteristics of the articles are studied. In this case, the type of article (empirical, literature review or conceptual) and whether it is qualitative or quantitative, the main source of the data and the method used to analyse it.

2.3. Third Stage: Narrative Analysis

In the last phase of the methodological process, a narrative analysis is carried out to understand the themes that have been studied (Siddaway et al., 2019). To this end, the objective, the main contribution, and limitation are identified. The principal purpose of the narrative analysis is to provide guidance to future researchers on the way forward in this topic.

3. Results

3.1. Descriptive Analysis

To begin the descriptive analysis of this article, Figure 2 shows the number of documents per year. Research on the topic started in 2012 and remained stable with publications of between one, two or three articles. However, in 2020 the number of publications started to increase. Thus, in 2020, five articles are published, in 2021 six, in 2022 the sample decreases with only two articles, and up to June 2023 (up to where the search was carried out), three articles are published, so this could change in the second half of the year. It should be noted that this is a very narrow topic, so it was expected that the number of papers would be relatively small. However, since the Covid-19 pandemic there has been increased interest. In this case, it may be that the level of awareness is increasing, so that publications in this area may increase.

Figure 2. Number of documents per year

Source: Own elaboration.

3.1.1. Journals

This section refers to the analysis of the impact of the journals in which the analysed articles were published. In this case, their impact has been measured using the Journal Citation Reports (JCR) and the Scimago Journal & Country Rank (SJR), since these are two of the most prestigious rankings in the academic world. As can be seen in Table 1, the first column corresponds to the name of the journal, the second column to the total number of articles published, and the third and fourth columns to the categories and quartiles in which the JCR and SJR rankings place the journals according to their most recent data (2022).

Table 1. Journals and rankings







Environmental Sciences (SCIE) Q2; Environmental Studies (SSCI) Q2; Green & Sustainable Science & Technology (SCIE) Q3; Green & Sustainable Science & Technology (SSCI) Q3

Computer Networks and Communications Q2; Energy Engineering and Power Technology Q2; Environmental Science Q2; Geography, Planning and Development Q1; Hardware And Architecture Q2; Management, Monitoring, Policy And Law Q2; Renewable Energy, Sustainability And The Environment Q2

Acta Geographica Slovenica-Geografski Zbornik


Geography, Physical (SCIE) Q3


Journal Of Place Management and Development



Business And International Management Q2; Geography, Planning and Development Q2; Marketing Q2; Strategy and Management Q2; Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management Q2; Urban Studies Q2

Agroecology And Sustainable Food Systems


Agriculture, Multidisciplinary (SCIE) Q2; Green & Sustainable Science & Technology (SCIE) Q4

Agronomy And Crop Science Q1; Development Q2; Renewable Energy, Sustainability and The Environment Q2.

Annals Of Leisure Research



Cultural Studies Q1; Geography, Planning and Development Q2, Social Psychology Q2; Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management Q2

British Food Journal


Agricultural Economics & Policy (SCIE) Q3; Food Science & Technology (SCIE) Q2

Business, Management and Accounting Q2; Food Science Q1

Cogent Social Sciences



Social Sciences Q2

Economic Analysis and Policy


Economics (SSCI) Q1

Economics And Econometrics Q1; Economics, Econometrics and Finance Q1

Frontiers In Sustainable Food Systems


Food Science & Technology (SCIE) Q2

Agronomy And Crop Science Q1; Ecology Q1; Food Science Q1; Global and Planetary Change Q2; Horticulture Q1; Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law Q2

Journal Of Culinary Science & Technology



Food Science Q3

Journal Of Environmental Accounting and Management



Accounting Q3; Ecological Modeling G4; Ecology Q3; Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law Q3, Strategy and Management Q3; Urban Studies Q3

Journal Of Rural Studies


Geography (SSCI) Q1; Regional & Urban Planning Q1

Development Q1; Forestry Q1;

Journal Of Sustainable Tourism


Green & Sustainable Science & Technology (SSCI) Q2; Hospitality, Leisure, Sport & Tourism (SSCI) Q1

Geography, Planning and Development Q1; Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management Q1

Periplo Sustentable




Scandinavian Journal Of Hospitality And Tourism


Hospitality, Leisure, Sport & Tourism (SSCI) Q2; Sociology (SSCI) Q1;

Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management Q1

Source: Own elaboration.

The journal Sustainability has published seven articles. It is followed by the Journal of Place Management and Development and Acta Geographica Slovenica-Geografski Zbornik with two articles each. It should be noted that one of the documents is a conference proceedings: 6th International Scientific Conference Tosee - Tourism In Southern and Eastern Europe 2021, so it is not included in Table 1.

As far as the JCR ranking is concerned, seven of the journals are classified in the Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI). In addition, six journals have some of their categories in Q1, another six in Q2, three in Q3 and one in Q4.

With regard to the SJR ranking, three journals are not classified (N/A). In addition, 11 journals have some of their categories in Q1, seven of them in Q2, two in Q3 and none in Q4.

3.1.2. Authors

A total of 57 authors have researched the topic. The maximum number of articles published by the same author is two. Specifically, five authors have published two articles. The rest published one article. Table 2 shows the main information about the most productive authors in the field. This information has been collected from Web of Sciences, so it is the data corresponding to the publication dates of the articles. Specifically, there is one author from Italy, two from Spain and two from Poland. In terms of affiliation, the University of Extremadura, with two authors, the Technical University of Koszalin, with two authors, and the Universities of Gastronomic Sciences, with onw author, stand out.

Table 2. Authors Analysis






Fassio, Franco


University of Gastronomic Sciences

Industrial Design


Folgado-Fernandez, Jose Antonio


University of Extremadura

Financial Economy & Accounting


Hernández-Mogollon, Jose


University of Extremadura

Business Management & Sociology


Janiszewska, Dorota


Koszalin University of Technology



Ossowska, Luiza


Koszalin University of Technology



Source: Own elaboration.

3.1.3. Methodological Characteristics

An analysis was carried out to determine the methodological characteristics of the literature. This information is presented in Table 3. The first column indicates the authors of the work, the second the type of study, the third the source of the data used for the analysis and finally the method used to analyse the sample and/or the type of analytical technique, depending on the type of research.

Table 3. Methodological Characteristics



Data Source


Arasli et al. (2021)

Empirical (quantitative)


Partial least square structural equation modelling

Csapody et al. (2021)

Empirical (qualitative)

Public information (social media, websites…)

benchmarking methodology

de Jong and Varley (2018)

Empirical (qualitative)



Duignan et al. (2018)

Empirical (qualitative)

Interviews and Survey

Descriptive data analysis

Enzenbacher (2020)

Empirical (qualitative and quantitative)

Case study, survey, and interviews

Case Study, observation, and trend analysis

Fassio (2017)

Empirical (quantitative)


Systemic Design

Fassio et al. (2022)

Empirical (qualitative and quantitative)


Social Network Analysis Methodology

Fernandes and Richards (2021)

Empirical (qualitative)

Literature review, observation, and interviews

Descriptive data analysis

Folgado-Fernandez et al. (2017)

Empirical (quantitative)


Partial least squares path modelling technique

Folgado-Fernandez et al. (2019)

Empirical (quantitative)


Partial least squares path modelling technique

Fontefrancesco and Zocchi (2020)

Empirical (qualitative)

Historical analysis and observation of festivals, interviews and focus groups.

Ethnographic case

Giampiccoli et al. (2023)

Conceptual paper

Previous literature, organizational and institutional documents, and information /data from museums

Narrative Review

Higgins-Desbiolles et al. (2014)

Empirical (qualitative)

Semi-formal intensive interviews, participant observation, material published online

Thematic Analysis

Janiszewska and Ossowska (2021)

Empirical (qualitative)

Interviews (Paper and Pencil Interviewing)

Measurement of variables using percentages and Likert scale

Kim and Kim (2018)

Empirical (quantitative)


Descriptive statistics, confirmatory factor analysis, and structural equation modelling

Lin and Bestor (2020)

Empirical (qualitative)


Grounded Theory

Notaro and Paletto (2021)

Empirical (quantitative)


Life Cycle Data System

Ossowska et al. (2023)

Empirical (qualitative and quantitative)

Survey and interviews

Reliability test, Likert

Pinar-Alvarez (2022)

Literature Review



Silkes (2012)

Empirical (quantitative)

Web-based survey questionnaire

Factor analysis and multiple regression

Star et al. (2020)

Empirical (quantitative)


Travel Cost

Topole et al. (2021)

Empirical (quantitative)

Observation and questionnaires

Descriptive data analysis

Wong et al. (2023)

Conceptual paper

Online reviews and observations

Thematic analysis

Zarebski and Zweglinska-Galecka (2020)

Empirical (quantitative)

External data

k-means method

Source: Own elaboration.

In this case, 21 empirical studies are considered, of which ten are quantitative, eight qualitative and three mixed (qualitative and quantitative). Among the literature, two conceptual papers and one literature review were also identified.

Regarding the source of data collection, researchers use a combination of qualitative and quantitative techniques. We can highlight that 13 of them use surveys or questionnaires, eight of them conduct interviews of different types (semi-structured, paper and pencil, semi-formal…), six of them choose observation and others rely on secondary sources such as online reviews, case study data, literature reviews, etc.

On the other hand, the methods of analysis are very variable, with two articles using factor analysis, one using partial least squares structural equation modelling and two using partial least squares path modelling. The rest of the techniques are different, as shown in Table 3: thematic analysis, ethnographic analysis, benchmarking methodology, etc.

3.2. Narrative Analysis

In this section, we conduct a narrative analysis of the literature. Narrative reviews are valuable for addressing the latest developments in research on a particular topic (Siddaway et al., 2019). Therefore, we analyse the aim, main contributions, and main limitations of the articles, which complements the characteristics reviewed above. In this way, a comprehensive description is presented. Table 4 shows the categorisation of the authors in the sample according to their main purpose. Five main themes were identified: Management and design from different perspectives, branding and promotion, cultural and community development, stakeholder motivations and perceptions, and others.

Some studies, such as Fassio (2017), examine how food events are managed and designed from environmental, economic and social perspectives. De Jong and Varley (2018) comment in their study that social aspects are poorly studied compared to environmental or economic aspects. For this reason, he focuses his study on social sustainability. For their part, Nottaro and Paletto (2021) analyse the environmental impact of food festivals. Enzenbacher (2020) focuses on the use of natural and human resources for sustainable development and food tourism. Regarding the economic perspective, we find Silkes (2012) focusing on the economic impact of visitors, and Star et al. (2020) assessing sustainability in economic terms. Other studies, such as Fassio et al. (2022), analyse the multiple impacts of an event.

The branding and promotion of destinations through food festivals is another prominent theme. For example, the use of social media marketing is explored by Arasli et al. (2021). Fernandes and Richards (2021) also study the role of restaurants and food events in promoting culinary culture. On the other hand, Folgado-Fernandez et al. (2017) study how these festivals contribute to destination loyalty and image.

Studies have also been identified that highlight the cultural development that food events can offer. For example, Higgins-Desbiolles et al. (2014) explore restaurants as places where alternative cultural pedagogies can be practised. In the same vein, Fontefrancesco and Zocchi (2020) focus on how the dissemination of agricultural and gastronomic culture can be the result of food events. However, it is not only cultural development that should be emphasised, but also the development of the whole community. For this reason, Lin and Bestor (2020) are concerned with studying the relationship between food festivlas and community development. It is also important to highlight the impact of small food events on tourism and the sustainable development of villages (Folgado-Fernández et al., 2019), or even how sustainable development can depend on capital rooted in the local environment, as Zarebski and Zweglinska-Galecka (2020) argue.

Other papers are devoted to the study of the motivations or perceptions of the different stakeholders. In general terms, we find Ossowska et al. (2023), who identify the perceptions of the impact of food festivals by stakeholders in general. On the other hand, Janiszewska and Ossowska (2021) focus on the motivations of exhibitors at a food festival. Also, the study of visitors as a stakeholder group and from the perspective of sustainability. For example, Topole et al. (2021) explore satisfaction, motivations and views on sustainability, or Kim and Kim (2018) discuss the environmental choices of visitors to green food events. In addition, research by Silkes (2012) on tourists' motivations for visiting farmers' markets. Finally, Pinar-Alvarez (2022) also includes stakeholders in his research on the concept of sustainable gastronomy, including others such as policies or quality standards.

Food events are very common in small places, where small producers play a central role. For this reason, Duignan et al. (2018) study the links between festivals and small producers with a sustainable perspective. The authors look at the movement from “clown towns” to “slow towns”. This means that many cities are losing their essence by becoming clones. However, "slow tourism" improves the cultural offer and provides long-term sustainability for small local producers.

A rather characteristic example is that of Wong et al. (2023), who study the resilience of people's socio-mental inspiration. Others, such as Giampiccoli et al. (2023), aim to highlight the role of certain foods in food tourism and in tourism in general. In their case, they focus on potatoes. Finally, Covid-19 is also present in the work of Csapody et al. (2021) through their study on the sustainability of European food festivals.

The contributions of the papers are quite extensive, so an attempt has been made to highlight the main contribution of each of the them. First of all, it should be noted that the extension of the literature in the area of study is a theoretical contribution that is practically common to all the papers (e.g., Janiszewska and Ossowska, 2021). Even the opening of new research foci based on specific food ingredients, such as Giampiccoli et al. (2023). However, in this paper we have tried to highlight the main practical contribution of all of them.

Firstly, it is worth highlighting the significance of works such as Higgins-Desbiolles et al. (2014) for their contribution to understanding the complexity of sustainability and the crucial role of tourism companies in developing sustainable practices. In this sense, given the nature of the literature review, the research aims to serve as an example of how to manage and create sustainable food events (e.g., Fassio, 2017; Ossowska et al. 2023). The aim is to promote culinary events as they have a positive impact on the local population from a social, economic, and environmental perspective (Topole et al., 2021). From a purely social perspective, De Jong and Varley (2018) aim to demonstrate that there are limits to the social sustainability of gastronomic events. Other authors, such as Notaro and Paletto (2021), aim to mitigate the negative environmental impacts of festivals. For example, by working with policy makers to reforest the hectares needed to offset the environmental impact of the event. The contribution of Zarebski and Zweglinska-Galecka (2020) by creating a model that examines the capital level and local development impact of different festivals, which can be applied at a global level, should also be highlighted. Furthermore, in order to contribute to the development of sustainable tourism, labels can be created that include economic, social and environmental indicators (Pinar-Alvarez, 2022). Additionally, Fassio et al. (2022) aim to demonstrate the possibility of transferring sustainable behaviour and consolidating and creating relationships between food systems and local communities.

On the other hand, the articles aim to provide information that can be used in marketing campaigns (Folgado-Fernandez et al., 2019) or to support organisers who intend to develop marketing campaigns to organise green festivals (Kim & Kim, 2018). Others, such as Silkes (2012), aim to support marketers with indicators and guidelines for programme design.

It is also important to demonstrate the importance of preserving cultural heritage for future generations (Arasli et al., 2021) or culinary culture (Fernandes & Richards, 2021) and to protect and promote culinary knowledge (Fontefrancesco & Zocchi, 2020).

Some authors focus on developing destinations, with their results contributing to the definition of public policies that improve the image and loyalty of the destination through gastronomic experiences (Folgado-Fernandez et al., 2017) or demonstrate that local products can serve as a personal brand and contribute to community development (Lin & Bestor, 2020). Duignan et al. (2018) provide practices for local producers of cultural events with similar characteristics to those they researched. The focus is on objectivity, comprehensibility, logical structure, conventional structure, clear and objective language, correct format, formal register, balanced writing, precise word choice, and grammatical correctness. The improved text maintains the original content and avoids introducing new aspects.

In general, some works contribute to the development of sustainable tourism. For example, Enzenbacher (2020) identifies and analyses events whose organisers aim to enhance food tourism during the recovery process after Covid-19. Similarly, Star et al. (2020) emphasise the importance of developing links with agriculture, the environment, and the community through food experiences to ensure their sustainability. It is important to note that these evaluations are objective and supported by evidence. Wong et al. (2023) emphasise the discovery of new dimensions of ritual chains of interaction and the expanded role of hospitality services in accentuating the link between society, communities, and individuals.

It is worth noting the limitations identified in Table 5. The studies are generally empirical and focus on one or several festivals. For example, some studies (de Jong & Varley, 2018; Giampiccoli et al., 2023) were limited by geography (Folgado-Fernandez et al., 2019; Fontefrancesco & Zocchi, 2020; Fernandes & Richards, 2021), while others were limited by the method of analysis (Notaro & Paletto, 2021). This study has limitations that may affect the generalisability of the results. Due to their subjective nature (Duignan et al., 2018), limitations with the sample (e.g., Ossowska et al., 2023), and lack of statistical analysis (e.g., Janiszewska & Ossowska, 2021), among other factors. The quality of respondents' information is also often identified as a concern. For instance, their lack of experience (e.g., Topole et al., 2021) or the limitations of the language used (Fassio et al., 2022) can impact the accuracy of the data.

Table 5. Limitations

Main Limitation


The multidisciplinary collaboration between social media and the tourism and hospitality industry is not considered.

Arasli et al. (2021)

Restrictions during Covid-19

Csapody et al. (2021)

Subjectivity of the method of analysis

Duignan et al. (2018)

Lack of data in tourism development, policymaking and planning.

Enzenbacher (2020)

Limited of respondents, language and the nature of the questionnaire

Fassio et al. (2022)

Geographic limitation or difficult to generalise

Fernandes and Richards (2021); Folgado-Fernandez et al. (2017); Folgado-Fernandez et al. (2019); Fontefrancesco and Zocchi (2020); de Jong and Varley (2018); Giampiccoli et al. (2023); Lin and Bestor (2020); Silkes (2012); Star et al. (2020); Fassio (2017).

Information biases

Higgins-Desbiolles et al. (2014)

No statistical analysis

Janiszewska and Ossowska (2021)

Respondents' behavioural and purchase intentions were measured, not their actual behaviours or purchases.

Kim and Kim (2018)

Number of responses and limitations of the system used.

Notaro and Paletto (2021)

Limited sample, Covid-19 restrictions

Ossowska et al. (2023)

Absence of primary information sources

Pinar-Alvarez (2022)

Respondents' poor experience in food festivals

Topole et al. (2021)

Lack of empirical analysis

Wong et al. (2023)

Need primary data

Zarebski and Zweglinska-Galecka (2020)

Source: Own elaboration.

4. Discussion

The celebration of food events has numerous benefits for the local economy (Ossowska et al., 2023) and helps to preserve culinary heritage (Fontefrancesco & Zocchi, 2020). However, managing such events sustainably can be challenging (Laing & Frost, 2010). It is essential to coordinate all stakeholders to minimize the negative impact on the environment.

Academic interest in food tourism is increasing (Björk & Kauppinen-Raisanen, 2016). However, our research has revealed that the study of the relationship between food events and sustainability in food tourism is limited. In other words, there is a scarcity of research on this topic. Nevertheless, recent studies, such as Wani et al. (2023), have already demonstrated how consuming local food can positively impact sustainability-focused tourism. Exploring unique local food concepts can help differentiate destinations in tourism marketing campaigns. Therefore, it is essential to work in this direction. A destination can be recognised as a “UNESCO Gastronomy City”, where the added value is the experience associated with the uniqueness of the local food heritage. It is also necessary to consider how this type of experience can support sustainable tourism (Park et al., 2023).

This paper presents a review of articles published in journals by various authors on sustainability in food events (RQ1). The literature on this topic has seen a significant increase in recent years, with only one article published in 2012 and five to six articles published in 2020 and 2021. The most productive authors on this topic have only published two articles each, while the remaining 57 authors have only published one article each. The European continent is the most studied in this case, as five of the most productive authors work in European universities, such as those in Italy, Spain, or Poland. Sustainability is the journal that shows the greatest interest, with seven publications, according to the impact of the journals that have published the articles in the sample. Additionally, most of the journals are classified in the Q1 and Q2 categories, according to the JCR and SJR rankings. The possibility of publishing in high-impact journals exists.

To answer the second research question (RQ2), this article presents the methodological characteristics of sustainability in food events. Most of the articles are empirical, such as Folgado-Fernandez et al. (2017), Csapody et al. (2021), and Fassio et al. (2022). Their findings may be significant for managing food tourism events in the future. However, the sample size is too small to generalize the results.

Finally, to address the third research question (RQ3), this paper includes a narrative analysis of all the selected articles. The authors have grouped them together to facilitate the different themes addressed in the literature. There is a greater focus on topics related to the design and management of events from various perspectives, including economic, environmental, and social. Additionally, local food has the potential to impact various dimensions of sustainability (Wani et al., 2023). However, it is important to note that the perspective of social sustainability is not well developed. Only one article has been found that analyses it in detail (de Jong & Varley, 2018). Perhaps the study of this topic from this perspective is recent. The authors recommend further development due to the broad relationship that food events have with culture. However, it has also been observed that cultures and communities have developed. Additionally, stakeholders' motivations and perceptions have been studied.

The analysis of the papers provides insights into the relationship between food events and sustainability in food tourism. The comparison of the reviewed papers highlights the challenge of addressing the three types of sustainability impacts and the importance of understanding the relationships between the variables involved. An example to illustrate this is examining the impact of food events on the cultural (heritage and gastronomy) and community (economic and social) development of the areas where they are held, or vice versa, and in what ways.

Previous research has shown that there is a scarcity of robust quantitative research using explanatory models that addresses diverse topics. It is essential for the literature to progress towards developing more studies that use theoretical models to compare variables and explain food events as mechanisms for sustainable development or to analyse their impacts. These studies should encompass variables related to cultural, gastronomic, or economic contexts in which such events occur.

However, it is essential to further develop the conceptual understanding of both sustainability and food events. Sustainability, a multifaceted concept, requires an evaluation of the distribution of benefits and costs. The analysis of food events can be significantly influenced by phenomena such as “slow food”, green and healthy food, or foodies. Appropriately situating the study of these events within broader disciplines, such as tourism, sociology, or business management, could generate valuable contributions. To achieve this, an in-depth review of theoretical paradigms that can explain this and related phenomena is necessary. Moving forward, theoretical studies and Grounded Theory can provide valuable insights and conceptual models. Assessing the latest sustainability assessments, such as LCSA (Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment) or Circular Economy, can yield interesting results.

Furthermore, it is essential to classify and catalogue these events at an international level to gain a broader and more comparative understanding. Therefore, it is a priority to collect and make current data available through public institutions and business associations.

To truly understand and measure sustainability in its three classic aspects (environmental, social, and economic), it is essential to deepen the links and dependencies between the different agents involved in an event, including organisers, tourists, residents, local producers, media, and institutions. Finally, there is a need to study and compare different types of event management practices to understand their implementation, assess their success in achieving proposed objectives, and determine whether they are more oriented towards profitability or social and environmental benefits. In conclusion, it should be noted that the concept of food tourism and the concept of sustainability can be considered together as a theme for research (Okumus, 2021).

5. Conclusions

This paper concludes that there is a need to incorporate sustainability into food events as a line of research. This approach provides significant publication opportunities for young researchers and those seeking to diversify their knowledge. It is essential to collaborate with all stakeholders involved in the celebration of these events to ensure their sustainable development. Furthermore, a destination can enhance its appeal by promoting its local cuisine.

It is imperative to conduct additional research on food events to develop a comprehensive understanding. The academic community should focus on expanding their knowledge and measuring sustainability, especially in the context of food tourism. Evaluating the positive and negative impacts (environmental, social, and economic) of food events can assist in their regulation, promotion, and management. Implications (academic, practical and social), limitations and future lines of research are shown below.

5.1. Academic Implications

The academic contribution is the primary focus of this study. The descriptive information about the literature and narrative analysis aim to equip future researchers with the necessary tools to publish in this area of knowledge. High impact journals have shown a keen interest in this type of article. Furthermore, the limited literature can serve as an incentive to contribute to this research, as it presents an important publication opportunity.

5.2. Practical Implications

Regarding practical implications, this analysis can assist event organisers in finding articles that examine food festivals similar to their own. They can then use the results, conclusions, and proposals of these articles as a guide. Furthermore, this analysis can promote the hosting of such events by highlighting their numerous benefits. This study offers an opportunity for businesses, local and regional authorities, governments, and public regulators to increase awareness of future actions aimed at developing more information on food events and their effects. Measuring impacts and publishing data are essential to understanding the true consequences of this phenomenon and can make a valuable contribution in this regard.

5.3. Social Implications

Also, social contributions can be observed. Firstly, promoting these events can result in economic and social benefits and safeguard culinary traditions for future generations. Additionally, these events can improve people's quality of life, highlighting the need to manage resources appropriately to protect our planet. If these practices are followed, they can help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda. These goals include ending world hunger through food waste management, protecting the environment through energy saving, water, and waste management, and promoting education, among other aspects.

5.4. Limitations and Future Research

As with all research, there are limitations associated with the proposed methodology. To conduct more comprehensive reviews, bibliometric techniques such as SciMat or Vosviewer, or qualitative techniques such as content or thematic analysis of large text samples using programs like Atlas.ti could be used. Expanding the search to include terms related to sustainability such as carbon footprint, waste management, local gastronomy and green gastronomy, among others, could provide additional descriptive studies.

Future studies could consider Food Waste Management as a line of research within sustainability due to its importance for a sustainable future. Food events are recognised as economically and socially valuable, but they must also be environmentally responsible. To investigate the environmental impact, Footprint family indicators should be used as measurements to develop appropriate strategies to reduce the environmental footprint of tourism in general (Miralles et al., 2023). Therefore, waste management should be emphasised as an important aspect of sustainable practices at food events. Finally, we propose comparing how the various actors involved in such events engage with the three pillars of sustainability and the interests they pursue.

Declaration of conflict of interest

The author(s) declare(s) that they have no conflict of interest in relation to the research, authorship or publication of this work.


This work has been supported by Project PID2021-124641NB-I00 of the Ministry of Science and Innovation (Spain), the high-performance research group “Openinnova” (Number 381, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos) and the high-performance research group on Circularity, Sustainability, Innovation and Talent “CIRSIT” (Number 521, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos).


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