Department of Management

Consumer in-store choice of suboptimal food to avoid food waste: The role of food category, communication and perception of quality dimensions

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  • Jessica Aschemann-Witzel
  • Ana Giménez, Universidad de la República, Uruguay
  • Gastón Ares, Universidad de la República, Uruguay

Food not purchased due to its perceived sub-optimality is often wasted in the store, which contributes to the problem of food waste. One way to avoid this factor causing disposal of edible food is to offer such foods at reduced prices in the store. However, it remains under researched under which circumstances consumers most likely choose such food. The current study aimed to analyse choice likelihood in dependence of food category and communication of the offer, and to explore dimensions of perceived food quality and ascriptions to the buyer of sub-optimal products. An online between-subjects experimental study (4 × 2) with 746 Uruguayan consumers was conducted, comparing price reduced suboptimal food of four categories and communicating either economic saving or food waste avoidance. The foods were also assessed on a range of quality characteristics, and ascriptions matching a person buying either the optimal or the suboptimal food chosen. Findings show that suboptimal foods offered at reduced price were well accepted. However, likelihood of choice of suboptimal food depended on food category and was higher in the presence of communication on food waste avoidance, with differences in gender and socioeconomic status. Perceived quality and ascriptions to the buyers varied between food categories. It is concluded that communicating food waste avoidance can heighten acceptance and improve perceived quality, in particular for fresh produce. The findings allow deriving recommendations for approaches to improve value perception of suboptimal food, targeted to food category and consumer group.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFood Quality and Preference
Pages (from-to)29-39
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Research areas

  • Ascriptions, Consumer choice, Culture, Food waste, Price, Quality perception, Suboptimal food, Value

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