Exploring Food Waste: The Role of Health Motivation

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One-third of all edible food products for human consumption is wasted or lost in the supply chain, with negative social, economic and environmental consequences. Although consumers are the single largest contributors to food waste in industrialized countries, food waste has not received much attention in the literature, and it remains unknown why consumers waste so much. We propose that food waste is driven by inconsistencies between planned decisions on what to eat and decisions on what is actually consumed. Based on Temporal Construal Level Theory, we propose that with larger temporal distance between choice and consumption moment, such as when consumers buy their groceries for several days in advance, the share of chosen virtuous products increases, which at the moment of consumption may be replaced by more attractive vice products, ultimately leading to waste. While we do not find evidence that the temporal distance between choice and consumption moment affects the share of chosen virtue products, our study shows that food waste is larger when consumers have initially chosen more virtuous products. In particular consumers with a high controlled health motivation waste more if they have initially chosen many virtuous products.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Consumer Research
EditorsPage Moreau, Stefano Puntoni
Place of PublicationDuluth, MN
PublisherAssociation for consumer research
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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