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Italian consumers’ income and food waste behavior

Marco Setti (Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy)
Luca Falasconi (Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy)
Andrea Segrè (Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy)
Ilaria Cusano (Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy)
Matteo Vittuari (Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 4 July 2016

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide insights on the relationships between consumers’ income and household food waste behaviors.

Design/methodology/approach

Attitude toward food waste is a paradigmatic (economic) non-standard decision making. Based on behavioral economics concepts and empirical evidences, the study analyzes the frequency of household food waste and its main drivers with a focus on individual income. Through a panel of 1,403 Italian consumers, food waste behavior and its determinants are modeled for five food typologies using proportional odds models that adopt stepwise procedures and genetic algorithms.

Findings

Results suggest the existence of complex relationships between per capita income and household food waste behavior. When considering food typologies that include high value added products, this relation can be explained by an inverse U-shaped curve: mid-to-low income consumers purchase higher amounts of lower quality products and waste more food.

Research limitations/implications

The research highlights the importance of understanding the main socio-economic and behavioral determinants of household food waste, and the need for further researches.

Practical implications

The research motivates specific pricing, commercial and policy strategies as well as organizational technological, and educational solutions to prevent/reduce household food waste.

Social implications

Lower income class consumers show a greater attitude to waste certain food typologies. In turn, this implies that food waste can further worse economic inequality and relative poverty.

Originality/value

The study identifies different patterns of relationship among individual income and consumers’ food waste behavior, and describes the conditions that limit a household “Food Waste Kuznets Curve.”

Keywords

Citation

Setti, M., Falasconi, L., Segrè, A., Cusano, I. and Vittuari, M. (2016), "Italian consumers’ income and food waste behavior", British Food Journal, Vol. 118 No. 7, pp. 1731-1746. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-11-2015-0427

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited