Consumer food waste carries the highest environmental impact compared to losses earlier in the food chain, and it is no longer a problem concentrated only in higher income countries. How can household food waste be reduced? The proper answer might come from more research to identify which communication and marketing initiatives work better to decrease waste. In a new paper published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, researcher Gustavo Porpino, from the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) provides some solutions and a framework for conducting future research on this global issue of remarkable social and environmental relevance.
Porpino analyzed previous research findings from 24 peer-reviewed papers, and empirical data from a study conducted in households in the US and Brazil. He concluded that additional studies aimed at testing the impact of communication initiatives on behavioral change are needed. Also, a standardized methodology to measure consumer food waste is necessary. These paths for further research would benefit public policies aimed at increasing the awareness of food waste, and would contribute to more effective nutritional education initiatives since messages could be framed based on insights tested in scientific studies.
"If we consider that wasting edible food might contribute to infringing on opportunities for others to feed themselves, then there is a link between this phenomena and hunger relief programs", says Porpino.
This article is published in the inaugural issue of the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research entitled "The Behavioral Science of Eating." This issue has been edited by Brian Wansink of Cornell University and Koert van Ittersum of the University of Groningen.