Mary Brennan Headshot

Chair of Food Marketing and Society

+44 (0)131 651 5550


BE (Ag and Food) (University College Dublin; MSc (Newcastle); PhD (Newcastle).

I completed my Bachelor of (Agricultural and Food) Engineering (BE) degree at University College Dublin (Ireland) in 1998. In September 1998, I moved to the UK and received my  MSc. International Agricultural and Food Marketing and PhD (by published work) from Newcastle University (UK) in 1999 and 2011 respectively. From September 1999, I held a series of academic positions at Newcastle University before moving to University of Edinburgh Business School in Nov 2013. Since joining University of Edinburgh Business School I have taken on the role of Head of the Marketing Group (Aug 2015 - current), been promoted to Professor of Food Marketing and Society (August 2017) and had my 3 year term as Director of UG Programmes on 1 August 2017.  

I am a food consumer researcher who explores the complex, dynamic relationships people have with food, how these shape everyday food practices, underpin contemporary food policy challenges and which are considered very resistant to change. I complement my theoretical and conceptual contributions to food marketing and society with creative interdisciplinary collaborations and innovative mixed method research offering new insights into everyday food practices, especially those considered “less than ideal” and often practiced behind closed, domestic doors (i.e. eating food past its use-by date; throwing out edible food; under-cooking of meat; over-consumption of food). My research also explores the concept of sustainable food in terms of production, procurement and consumption and I am an active member of FRIED, the Food Researchers in Edinburgh Network. I am also Chair of the Scottish Food Coalition and have been workign extensively on the newly passed Good Food Nation (Scotland) Act 2022. 

Research Interests

My research interests revolve around 5 main themes:

  1. Food Risk Communication
  2. Social Marketing, Food and Behavioural Change
  3. The interface between the domestic environment (private homes) and everyday food practices
  4. Exploring why the public engage in ‘risky’ food practices
  5. Sustainable Food Production, Procurement and Consumption.

My research is funded by bodies including:

  • the Food Standards Agency UK
  • safefood, the Food Safety Promotions Board Ireland
  • EU Framework 6 & 7 research programmes
  • Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
  • Academy of Marketing
  • the UK Department of Trade and Industry.
  • EU H2020 Research Framework Programme (ongoing - Strength 2 Food)

Through these projects, I developed expertise in working within multi and interdisciplinary teams and in particular on microbiological food safety and sustainable food. I was an expert member on the Food Standards Agency Social Science Research Committee (2008-2010) and the International Life Sciences Institute Expert Committee on Consumer Food Risk Perceptions and Food Risk Communication (2008-2013). Currently I am an active member of FRIED, Food Researchers in Edinburgh Network and the Scottish Food Coalition. I publish scholarly articles in a wide range of peer reviewed journals including:

  • Appetite
  • Food Quality and Preference
  • Food Policy
  • Trends in Food Science and Nutrition
  • Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition
  • European Journal of Marketing
  • Journal of Marketing Management
  • Public Understanding of Science
  • Journal of Risk Research
  • Science and the Total Environment

I am a member of:

  • the Academy of Marketing
  • the Academy of Marketing Science
  • the International Association of Food Protection (IAFP)

I have delivered invited presentations and/or seminars to a wide range of international organisations including:

  • the University of Oxford - Centre for Population Ageing
  • the annual US meeting of IAFP
  • safefood
  • the Society of the Chemical Industry (SCI)
  • the Dubai Global Food Safety Conference
  • the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health
  • the British Crop Protection Consortium.

Research Video

Mary Brennan discusses her research on food systems transformation and its positive impact.

Research Fingerprint

View Mary’s Research Fingerprint

Research Area