Presenter Information

Roni Neff

Event Website

Start Date

9-12-2014 2:25 PM

End Date

9-12-2014 2:50 PM


Introduction: As food waste prevention efforts expand in the U.S., there is a need for evidence to inform them, as well as baseline data to assist in tracking progress. While a body of research informs consumer-level waste-reduction efforts internationally, we cannot presume how results might translate to the U.S. context, given differences in culture, society, food system, infrastructure, policy and geography. Accordingly, we performed a nationally representative consumer survey of knowledge, attitudes and behaviors.

Methods: The survey was administered online to 1,010 individuals in April 2014.

Results: Respondents commonly reported being aware of food waste as an issue, making efforts to reduce it, feeling knowledgeable about how to do so, and performing behaviors known to reduce waste. Three-quarters said they throw out less food than the average American. Among motivators for waste reduction, saving money and setting an example for children topped the list, with environmental concerns ranked last. The most common reasons for discarding food were concern about food poisoning and a desire to eat only the freshest food. There were modest differences based on age and parent status, but not by race, education, socioeconomic status, or rural/urban residence.

Discussion: The survey provides valuable information about respondents’ perceptions. It is not possible to determine the extent to which their self-reports might reflect unawareness, aspirational reporting, or social desirability bias; nor to assess the actual quantity of their waste. Regardless, the findings suggest consumers may respond well to messages treating them as already-knowledgeable and engaged, and to messages focused on budgets. They suggest benefits of modifying messages about food safety and freshness in order to expand acceptability of still-safe and still palatable older foods. Lastly, they suggest consumer-endorsed opportunities to shift business practices.

Conclusion: This first national survey directly focused on food waste can yield critical insights as the field develops, and can provide a baseline to assist in tracking progress.


Dec 9th, 2:25 PM Dec 9th, 2:50 PM

U.S. Consumer Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviors Related to Food Waste


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