Second-hand Baby Food Advertisements

By: Lesley Frank  

Kijiji is the most popular Canadian online advertising service that facilitates the exchange of "second-hand" goods and research indicates that baby items are the third most exchanged goods. Infant food makes up a considerable portion of these goods, revealing an emerging digital second-hand food economy that exists outside of commercial and regulated foodscapes. This paper reports on research conducted on this second-hand economy, based on a collection of images and ads retrieved from Kijiji from May 2017 to March 2018 throughout the country. Content analysis of the ads was conducted to document the type of food, stated reasons for the ad (selling or food wanted), price, and condition of the product. Revealing much more than what people might no longer need to feed their baby, the results show the value of infant food as an exchange commodity within certain social groups. At times, the ads represent a sharing economy, when posters appear motivated to avoid waste. At other times, the ads appear to be a way to earn income from free samples obtained by direct-to-parent marketing of baby foods (in violation of the WHO International Code for the Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes). In either case these digital representations tell us the most about emerging strategies caregivers are employing to maximize income and/or needed food in response to poverty and household food insecurity.

Digital Infant Insecurity
2018 Special Focus: Digital Food Cultures
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Lesley Frank

-, Canada

Associated Professor in Sociology at Acadia University in Nova Scotia Canada. Food Studies researcher in the area of food insecurity, particulary as it related to impacts on infant feeding practices. Also researches in the area of family and child poverty, feminist food studies, and health.