Household food waste in an emerging country and the reasons why: Consumer´s own accounts and how it differs for target groups

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

A major share of food waste is caused in consumer households. Globally, this share is expected to increase with growing middle classes in emerging countries. Consumer behaviour factors causing food waste differ across the various food handling stages from purchase to use, as well as for the individual and the specific situation in question. In order to tackle food waste in the household, knowledge on the type of food wasted, the cause of waste, and the situation in which it occurs is needed for different target groups. Little research so far has studied household consumer related food waste in emerging countries. This study explored food waste in consumer´s own accounts of a recent food waste incident in 540 Uruguayan households. It used a mixed-method approach composed of open-ended questions, which were analysed using content analysis. Differences in the frequency of mention of the identified categories between socioeconomic and sociodemographic groups were analysed. Results showed that leftovers and fresh vegetable and fruit were the categories most consumers recall wasting, and indicated that sub-optimality and prolonged storage were major reasons for discarding food. The higher the socioeconomic group, the greater the likelihood of wasting fresh produce, and the more often due to sub-optimality. Findings imply that avoidable food waste might increase with affluence levels. Public policies or collaborative public-private information or intervention campaigns directed at consumer households can more effectively contribute to decreasing food waste if targeted at the most relevant categories and causes of food waste.

Original languageEnglish
JournalResources, Conservation and Recycling
Pages (from-to)332-338
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019

    Research areas

  • Consumer behaviour, Emerging country, Food waste, Household, Qualitative, Target group

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