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News article8 February 2018

Profiling Italian consumers attitude to food waste

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The JRC contributed to an Italian study in profiling food waste types to better understand what specific measures should be taken for food waste reduction.

Food waste goes well beyond the visible disposing of leftovers or food not consumed because of expired consume by dates for example.

It includes all waste of valuable resources that initially went into growing, producing, transporting or selling the food – land, soil, fertilisers, water, someone's hard work, energy and others. It also includes emissions of greenhouse gases or use of pesticides that could have been avoided too.

Estimates say that around 88 million tonnes of food are wasted annually in the EU, with associated costs estimated at 143 billion euros (FUSIONS, 2016).

The JRC has been carrying out important work on food waste, comparing different food waste accounting approaches developed overtime (Caldeira et al. 2017) and also proposing means to estimate the benefits of food waste prevention actions while limiting the costs of implementation ( Cristobal et al. 2018).

While food losses and waste can happen at different stages of the production and supply chain, in the EU a considerable size of the waste occurs at consumer/household level. A recent study performed at the Universtiy of Bologna with contribution by a JRC scientist sheds light on some of the reasons behind food waste at the household level in Italy and the type of foods being wasted. It also uses a clustering analysis to identify the major defining characteristics of seven different types of "food wasters".

Results, based on self-reporting, allow to sketch different 'waster' types, providing a picture of food waste related to eating, shopping, and storage behaviours and suggesting a number of differences existing in terms of perceived quantities and causes of generated food waste.

Out of the seven profiles identified, four are the most representative ones in terms of size: the conscious-fussy type, who wastes because food doesn’t smell or look good; the conscious-forgetful type, who forgets what is in the fridge or on the shelves; the frugal consumer who tends not to consume fruits and vegetables and declares to waste nothing (or almost nothing); and the exaggerated cook, who overbuys and overcooks.

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Food wasters: Profiling consumers’ attitude to waste food in Italy


Publication date
8 February 2018