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Expiry Dates, Consumer Behavior, and Food Waste: How Would Italian Consumers React If There Were No Longer “Best Before” Labels?

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Much research has been carried out on food losses and waste in the various stages of the food supply chain, consolidating the “fight” against food waste as one of the most important challenges in industrialized countries. Numerous different studies have focused on food waste at the household level, identifying both the multiple causes linked to this behavior and the factors that can drive towards the reduction of food waste. In this paper, a different approach was used, trying to analyze different individuals’ reactions to a concrete action consisting of removing “best before” labels from some food products, following the recent proposal by European Union to simplify date marking. How could any action in this area be implemented in every single country? Bearing in mind the general results of the cross-sectional official survey Flash Eurobarometer n. 425, the purpose of this study was to go deeper into the study of how consumers would behave if the expiry date were no longer available on a pack of spaghetti. The heterogeneity observed in the possible alternative reactions across European Union 28 countries, as well as by considering the importance played by the local context in which individuals reside led us to focus on a single country, and specifically on the Italian context, as an example of country in which citizens have a higher average level of knowledge about expiration dates than the global EU28 citizens, but where, at the same time, there is a more conservative behavior regarding using a product with no expiry date. The multinomial regression model—estimated using the generalized maximum entropy estimator—enabled us to identify different profiles and groups of individuals with which—as a suggestion to policy makers—it would be first necessary to intervene in order to standardize the level of knowledge on this specific topic. In this direction, territorial macro-areas proved to be strongly associated with the various reactions; the probability of consuming or throwing away was found to significantly differ across all the studied regional macro-areas, with a higher likelihood of throwing away the product with no best-before date in southern regions.
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sustainability
Article
Expiry Dates, Consumer Behavior, and Food Waste:
How Would Italian Consumers React If There Were
No Longer “Best Before” Labels?
Luca Secondi
Department for Innovation in Biological, Agro-Food and Forest Systems (DIBAF), University of Tuscia,
Via S. Camillo De Lellis, SNC 01100 Viterbo, Italy; secondi@unitus.it
Received: 21 September 2019; Accepted: 28 November 2019; Published: 1 December 2019


Abstract:
Much research has been carried out on food losses and waste in the various stages of
the food supply chain, consolidating the “fight” against food waste as one of the most important
challenges in industrialized countries. Numerous dierent studies have focused on food waste at
the household level, identifying both the multiple causes linked to this behavior and the factors that
can drive towards the reduction of food waste. In this paper, a dierent approach was used, trying
to analyze dierent individuals’ reactions to a concrete action consisting of removing “best before”
labels from some food products, following the recent proposal by European Union to simplify date
marking. How could any action in this area be implemented in every single country? Bearing in
mind the general results of the cross-sectional ocial survey Flash Eurobarometer n. 425, the purpose
of this study was to go deeper into the study of how consumers would behave if the expiry date were
no longer available on a pack of spaghetti. The heterogeneity observed in the possible alternative
reactions across European Union 28 countries, as well as by considering the importance played by
the local context in which individuals reside led us to focus on a single country, and specifically
on the Italian context, as an example of country in which citizens have a higher average level of
knowledge about expiration dates than the global EU28 citizens, but where, at the same time, there
is a more conservative behavior regarding using a product with no expiry date. The multinomial
regression model—estimated using the generalized maximum entropy estimator—enabled us to
identify dierent profiles and groups of individuals with which—as a suggestion to policy makers—it
would be first necessary to intervene in order to standardize the level of knowledge on this specific
topic. In this direction, territorial macro-areas proved to be strongly associated with the various
reactions; the probability of consuming or throwing away was found to significantly dier across all
the studied regional macro-areas, with a higher likelihood of throwing away the product with no
best-before date in southern regions.
Keywords:
food waste; consumer behavior; expiration label; Italy; entropy; multinomial logistic
regression
1. Introduction
In recent years, there has been increasing interest in household food waste (FW) from both
academics and policy makers. On one hand, literature on household FW has increased more than
twofold in the last five years [
1
,
2
], and research has focused mainly on identifying the factors associated
with the behavior of individuals towards FW. On the other hand, the importance of FW has been
highlighted at various territorial levels. At an international level, the FW issue has been included in the
concept of sustainable consumption and production, which is among the 17 Sustainable Development
Goals defined by the United Nations (UN) in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to
Sustainability 2019,11, 6821; doi:10.3390/su11236821 www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability
Sustainability 2019,11, 6821 2 of 15
transform our world. Indeed, UN Sustainable Development Goal 12 includes states that its target
is to halve per capita FW at retail and consumer levels and reduce food loss throughout production
and food supply chains (FSCs), including post-harvest losses, by 2030 [
3
]. Moreover, the importance
of the FW issue has been acknowledged in Europe by including this issue in the EU action plan for
circular economy [
4
]. Indeed, interventions by member states, regions, cities, and businesses along
the FSC are essential for the prevention of FW and for dealing with the dierent situations that may
arise across countries and regions, and awareness campaigns are required in order to change consumer
behavior [5].
In the EU28, approximately 88 million tons of food are wasted annually, the associated costs of
which have been estimated at
143 billion [
6
]. As already mentioned, in developed countries, food
losses generally occur in the final stages of the FSC, mainly due to the decisions made by producers
and final consumers, while food loss in developing countries generally occurs in the earlier FSC stages
because of a lack of financial, technical, and managerial resources. In the same study [
6
], it was
estimated that that two-thirds of the total cost of food loss and waste are caused by household FW,
which amounts approximately to 98 billion. As regards the Italian context, the estimated cost of FW
occurring in the final FSC stage amounts to approximately
12 billion per year, according to the recent
estimates provided by the observatory Waste Watcher (Last Minute Market/SWG) with reference to the
year 2017.
The European Commission (EC) prioritizes the widespread dissemination of good practices
regarding FW prevention in order to raise awareness at the various territorial levels. However, it is not
an easy task to plan and implement eective policies and initiatives, due to the various aspects that
should be taken into consideration.
Firstly, the action of wasting food by individuals has been proven to be the result of multiple
complex factors and types of behavior, rather than the outcome of a single behavior [
7
9
]. Various
studies have focused on the main activities that are responsible for FW, identifying consumers’
misunderstandings regarding “use by” and “best before” dates on food expiration date labels [
10
] as
one of the most important.
Secondly, it has been demonstrated [
9
] that there are a range of factors that encourage people to
reduce FW at both individual and contextual (territorial) levels. For this reason, even if planning and
harmonization at a central European level is essential from a methodological perspective (i.e., common
definition, common methodologies to tackle FW issues), it is much more important to analyze national
contexts separately and enhance the level of disaggregation of the analysis in order to accurately
consider individual and territorial heterogeneity [4] when sample data make it possible.
Bearing in mind the previously mentioned issues, this paper considered date marking as an
activity that leads individuals to throw away edible food. Specifically, a recent study published in
2018 by the FW [
11
] estimated that up to 10% of the total amount of the FW generated annually in
the EU is associated with misunderstanding the expiration dates, which mainly concern main food
categories such as fruit and vegetables, bakery products, meat including fish and poultry, and dairy
products. Therefore, consumers who misinterpret the meaning of “use by” and “best before” tend
to waste more food. On the other hand, food business operators as well as national or international
regulatory authorities [
12
], who are responsible for the date marking of food products, may also have
an important role in FW generation.
In 2015, the EC carried out a specific survey—the Flash Eurobarometer (FE) n. 425—which is
the most recent representative survey at the national level to analyze consumer behavior regarding
the expiry dates found on food labels. The Eurobarometer results confirmed that the expiry dates
found on food products are easily misunderstood, and that only 47% of European citizens comprehend
the meaning of best before labels and a small percentage of European citizens (40%) understand the
meaning of “use by”, with a substantial heterogeneity observed among the various countries [13].
These results in terms of dispersion strongly support the need to carry out analysis at least at a
national level, or for macro-regions where sample surveys allow this level of disaggregation. This
Sustainability 2019,11, 6821 3 of 15
was also underlined by Toma et al. [
14
], (p. 3) who stressed that, despite the fact that date labeling in
EU countries follows food Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 of the European Parliament and Council,
the dierent regimes and the speed with which each country puts the legislation into eect may
influence the understanding of date labeling for their citizens.
Within this framework, this paper focused on the Italian context and had two main aims. The first
aim was to determine whether and to what extent Italian consumers comprehend use by and best
before dates by exploring consumers’ behavioral, attitudinal, and personal characteristics regarding
date marking.
We then considered the possibility of removing best before dates on some products, which has
recently been proposed by the European Parliament. The FE survey investigated how respondents
would react if best before dates for certain non-perishable foods, such as rice, pasta, coee, and tea were
removed, since this information is currently required by law. By adopting the generalized maximum
entropy (GME) estimator introduced by Golan et al. [
15
] and first introduced in a segmentation
perspective for the FW context by Principato et al. [
16
] and Secondi et al. [
17
], we identified the
factors distinguishing individuals according to their dierent behaviors towards this simulated action
(i.e., removal of best before date from a pack of spaghetti).
In general, the contribution of this paper is intended to represent a “virtual” application context
where an action is not taken on the prevention of food waste (as has been done up to now by a large
part of the literature on FW at the domestic level, mainly aimed at understanding factors that can
contribute to a reduction of food waste), compared to the outcomes/reactions that a concrete and
corrective action (specifically, removing the expiry date “to be consumed preferably by” from some
products) could have on FW generation. On this issue, the FE n.425 survey represents a valuable source
of data to be exploited.
However, it is worth noting the limit of analyzing behavior of an action on the basis of a statistical
survey (and, in this sense, the simulation to be contrasted with an actual real action) and not therefore
on the basis of activating a “true” action (specifically, this study started from a survey carried out by
the European commission aimed at understanding—albeit through a sample survey —the extent of
the problem of understanding expiration dates), but it is also true that the implementation of concrete
actions/policies—especially those related to economic and social issues—often begins from a “virtual”
action implemented through the use of econometric and statistical tools (specifically regression models
used for forecasting purposes, or in other contexts computable general equilibrium models and
agent-based models).
The rest of the paper is structured as follows. Section 2illustrates the main characteristics of the
dataset used for the analysis and the theoretical statistical framework used for analyzing consumer
behavior. Section 3contains a summary of the results of the FE 425 survey and the GME multinomial
logit model estimates. In Section 4, the results obtained are discussed and useful insights for territorial
interventions are provided.
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. The Best Before and Use by Expiry Dates
The current European legislation on date marking is governed by EU-Regulation n. 1169/2011
regarding food information to consumers (FIC), which defines two ways of expressing expiry dates on
most pre-packed foods. On one hand, the best before date indicates the date (minimum durability)
up to which the food maintains its quality when properly stored, and a wide range of refrigerated,
frozen, dried (pasta, rice), and tinned foods are therefore marked in this way. As specified in the
briefing published by European Parliament in 2015 [
18
] (p. 2), European legislation does not prohibit
the marketing of foods after their best before date has passed, while the specific marketing options of
are regulated at the national level [19].
Sustainability 2019,11, 6821 4 of 15
On the other hand, in the case of highly perishable foodstus such as fresh fish, meat, or dairy
products the use by date establishes the maximum date up to which the food can be eaten safely, as
foreseen by article 24 (1) of the FIC regulation.
It is important to note that the two dierent labels should enable consumers to distinguish whether
the date concerns a safety threshold (i.e., use by) or a quality threshold (i.e., best before). As stressed in
the recent report published by the European Commission [
11
], even if best before and use by dates are
intended for consumers, they also prove useful for retailers and manufacturers in organizing food
(re)distribution and inventory management.
However, dierences between consumers’ intentions and actual behavior exist due to diculties
EU citizens have in understanding date labeling, as demonstrated by the FE 425 survey 425 carried out
in 2015 [13].
From a purely institutional perspective, the EU intends to simplify the labels placed on foods,
as well as to raise awareness regarding the use of expiry dates. In fact, as regards this issue, the EU
intends to establish a platform on food losses and FW in order to promote initiatives and actions so
that consumers can gain a better understanding of use by and best before dates. The EU also intends to
distribute leaflets and brochures explaining the dierent meanings and consequences related to the
safety of foodstus when the expiration dates have passed.
From an academic perspective—combined with the research focused on understanding the role
of label expiration dates in consumer behavior [
20
]—there is a growing body of research on the
relationships between consumer understanding and the use of date labels and FW generation [
21
24
].
There is another important aspect regarding food storage in terms of the sensory skills required to
understand the freshness and quality of foods, which can be determined through taste, smell, and
touch. A specific study carried out on this issue [
25
] found that elderly people tend to use these senses
more than younger people, who pay more attention to date labels or storage times. It is therefore
important to instruct consumers, especially young people, to use their senses for assessing the edibility
of a food and to enhance consumers’ understanding of expiry dates and labels.
2.2. The FE Survey 425: An Overview Focused on Italian Consumers
The microdata used in this study were collected within the FE survey n. 425 carried out by the
TNS political and social network in the EU28 member states from 1 to 3 September 2015. Telephone
interviews were conducted in order to obtain a total sample of approximately 26,000 respondents from
dierent social and demographic backgrounds (European Commission, 2015).
The aim of the survey was to gain a better understanding of the perceptions, behavior, and
practices of EU28 citizens regarding the management and consumption of foodstus, and to study the
role expiry dates play in generating FW [13].
The survey found that approximately 47 out of 100 EU28 citizens correctly comprehended best
before dates, while only 40% understood the term “use by”. In both cases, a high percentage of EU28
citizens (at least 25%) mistakenly believed that date marking varies according to the type of foodstu.
In this study, we focused on the Italian context by referring to a sample of 1003 individuals who
participated in the survey. The representativeness of the sample at the national level, constructed
by stratifying for NUTS2 region and urbanization levels and supported by the introduction of
post-stratification weights (Table 1) gave us the opportunity to carry out a single-country level analysis,
thus enhancing the importance of taking into careful consideration and highlighting the heterogeneity
on this issue registered across the various EU28 countries, as well as towards the global EU28 results.
Sustainability 2019,11, 6821 5 of 15
Table 1.
Sociodemographic characteristics and FE-425 survey: the Italian national representative sub-set.
Variable %
Gender
Male 48.07
Female 51.93
Age group
15–24 years 11.74
25–39 years 24.14
40–54 years 26.32
55 years and older 37.80
Educated to age
Up to 15 21.92
16–19 35.14
20 years and older 33.40
Still studying 6.90
No full-time education 0.51
Refusal/DK 2.13
Household size (aged 15+)
1 16.59
2 39.85
3 20.99
4+21.61
Refusal 0.96
Macro-area (Italy NUTS-1) of residence
North-west 26.72
North-east 19.24
Centre 19.83
South 23.16
Islands 11.06
Note: Post-stratification survey weights—available with the FE-425 [13]—were applied.
It was observed that Italian consumers were not completely aware of their role in reducing FW,
since (in response to the question 1 of the FE-425 questionnaires) only 54% of Italian consumers
acknowledged that consumers were the main category responsible. It should be noted that the
percentage was considerably lower than the average value of the EU28 countries (76%). In Italy,
the second
most responsible category was found to be the hospitality and food service sector, with a
percentage of 46%, followed by shops and retailers (32%), food manufacturers (30%), public authorities
(18%), and lastly farmers (12%).
When Italian consumers were asked what they would do to reduce FW at home, most of them
believed that meal planning and shopping more carefully (45%) were the best solutions, followed
by re-using leftovers instead of wasting them (40%) while only 16% believed that more detailed
information on best before and use by dates and food product labels (i.e., information on storing and
preparing food) would help to reduce waste.
Expiry dates proved to be more important for Italians than the total (global) EU28 citizens,
as approximately 68% stated that they always look at them when shopping and preparing meals,
compared to 58% of EU28 citizens.
2.3. The Multinomial Framework: The GME Econometric Specification
With the aim of understanding how Italian consumers consider best before dates, we referred
to the multinomial logit framework by referring to Question 7 from the FE survey, regarding how
consumers would behave if they found a package of spaghetti without a best before date and they could
not remember when they bought it. The studied possible answers (J =4) to this question enabled us to
implement dierent scenarios of individuals’ reactions (in the analysis, the last category “You never
Sustainability 2019,11, 6821 6 of 15
look at the dates” was considered together with the responses “Don’t know” and Not available). In the
multinomial framework, each response—compared to a selected reference situation—corresponded
to the estimation of a regression model. As further detailed in Section 3, we obtained J-1 regression
models, with one category as referent category.
In considering both the analysis and sample size at country-level and in order to explore this
issue at a more disaggregated level, we used the GME non-parametric approach [
15
,
26
]. Bearing
these characteristics in mind, the GME enabled us not to impose parametric assumptions on the error
distributions, thus leaving the data to speak for themselves. Moreover, it provides better results
than classical estimators when the data are characterized by ill-conditioned (highly collinear data) or
ill-posed (small and limited sample size) situations.
The GME multinomial logit model estimation was included in the general multinomial framework
concerning unordered discrete data.
The development of the statistical methodological framework able to describe the data generation
process [
15
] considered an experiment composed of N trials, in which y
1j
,y
2j
,
. . .
,y
Nj
, binary
variables were observed and where y
ij
for i=1, 2,
. . .
,Ttook on one of the Junordered categories
j=1, 2, . . . ,J[26,27].
By assuming that p
ij
—as the probability of alternative jfor unit i—is related to a set of covariates,
the following equation can be specified [28].
pij =Probyij =1
xi,βj=Fx0
iβj>0f or i =1, 2, . . . ,T;j=1, 2, . . . J
where
βij
is the
(K x 1)
vectors of unknowns,
x0
i
is the
(1x K)
covariate vector, and
F(·)
is the function
which links the probabilities p
ij
to the set of covariates in order to satisfy the condition that
P
j
Fx0
iβj=
1.
By adding the noise component to Equation (1), we obtain
yij =Fx0
iβj+eij =pij +eij (1)
In order to capture the unknown and unobservable
p
and
e
, we used indirect empirical
measurements of the noisy observable
y
and the known covariates
xi
. According to Golan et al.
(1996a), we introduced the information contained in the (T
×
K) matrix
X
of covariates by transforming
the statistical models into an inverse problem with noise, linear in p:
IjX0y=IjX0p+IjX0e(2)
when estimating this model within the GME framework, it was necessary to reparametrize the elements
of
e
since
p
is already in probability form. Bearing in mind the nature of the dependent variable
y
,
the error term could assume values between [
1, 1], and therefore we adopted the support space
v=1/T, 0, 1/T
with a number of support points Mequal to 3 and w
ij
as the corresponding
probabilities to be estimated, so that eij =Pmvi jm wi jm, where Pmwijm =1.
As a result, the maximization of the joint entropy (signal and error terms)
max
p,wH(p,w)=p0ln pw0ln w(3)
subject to data constraints
IjX0y=IjX0p+IjX0Vw (4)
and the normalization constraints led us to the solution of this optimization problem, and therefore to
obtain the estimated of pij and wijm (and then eij) as
ˆ
pij =expx0
iˆ
βj
ˆ
βjwhere ˆ
βj=10expx0
iˆ
βj(5)
Sustainability 2019,11, 6821 7 of 15
and
ˆ
wijm =expx0
iˆ
βjVj
Ψijˆ
βjwhere Ψij ˆ
βj=10expx0
iˆ
βjVj(6)
With the aim of improving the readability of the estimation results, we referred to the relative risk
ratios (RRRs) that can be obtained from the estimated coecient ˆ
βjas follows:
RRRj=expˆ
βj(7)
For each covariate, the RRR measured how the risk of observing the specific outcome category
in the studied group varies compared to the risk of observing the outcome in the reference group.
A value of the RRR higher (lower) than 1 means that the risk of observing the outcome category in
the comparison group was higher (lower) than the risk of observing the outcome category in the
reference group.
3. Results
3.1. Best Before and Use By Dates: Do We All Understand Correctly and in the Same Way?
One of the first results obtained using the FE-425 microdata was that approximately 67% of Italians
“always” check at use by or best before dates on food labels when shopping and preparing meals.
Indeed, the percentage of Italians who replied “always” to the question regarding how often they
check expiry dates when shopping and preparing meals (i.e., Question Q3 in the FE questionnaire)
was approximately 9 percentage points higher than the EU28 overall. Similarly, EU28 citizens paid
less attention than Italians in checking expiry dates “often” or “sometimes” (23% of Italians declaring
“often”, compared to 21% of EU28 citizens, and 9% of Italians declaring “sometimes”, compared to 7%
of EU28 citizens).
However, the amount of attention Italians paid to expiry dates diered significantly between
males and females (Pearson chi
2
(5) =24.0217, Pr =0.000); women paid more attention to the expiry
dates on food labels than men. This was confirmed by the fact that 73.70% of women said they always
check them, against 61.77% of men. Furthermore, 22.25% of Italian men said that they often check
expiry dates, while 4.54% seldom do so and 3.46% never check them. As regards Italian women, 18.33%
often check expiry dates, 5.19% sometimes check them, 1.48% seldom check them, and only 1.11%
never check them.
A significant, although slight, relationship (Pearson chi
2
(25) =36.5610, Pr =0.064) emerged
between attention to date marking and age group. Indeed, most of the interviewees (irrespective of age)
claimed to always check the expiry dates on the labels of food products, with people aged 65 and over
paying close attention to them (approximately 73.42% of people in this age group claimed to always
check expiration dates), as did people aged between 35–44 (approximately 71.69% of people in this age
group claimed to always check expiration dates). On the other hand, the highest percentages of people
who seldom or never check best before or use by dates were observed among youths: approximately
1 in 10 youths
aged between 15 and 24 stated that they seldom or never check expiry dates. However,
the second highest percentage was found for middle-aged people (between 55 and 64 years old); more
than 6% of the individuals in this age group declared that they seldom or never check expiry dates.
The questionnaires contained two questions regarding the issue of understanding (correct
comprehension) or misunderstanding best before and use by dates.
On observing the interviewees’ responses to the question concerning the meaning of the best
before date, it was evident that more than 50% of the Italians perfectly understood the meaning of this
food label (55.68%), thus proving that Italians understand food labels better than the average EU28
citizens (in which group the same percentage was equal to 47%).
However, approximately one Italian in five (20.34%) confused the meaning of the best before label
with the use by, since they stated that food can be consumed up to the indicated date, but it cannot be
Sustainability 2019,11, 6821 8 of 15
consumed later, and approximately 21.45% of Italians were convinced that the meaning of this wording
varies according to the type of food on which it is placed, while the others declared “none of these” or
said that they did not know.
More than half of the Italian respondents (51.34%) knew exactly what the use by expiry date
means, once again showing that Italians are more knowledgeable than the EU28 national average
(approximately equal to 40%). However, nearly 50% of the Italian respondents confused “use by”
with “best before” (20.24%), stated that the meaning of this label varies according to the type of food
(26.47%), or did not find the correct answer in any of the options or declared that they did not know
(or did not answer the question).
A first in-depth distinction of awareness of expiration dates was made by age group. Based on the
non-parametric chi
2
independence test—even bearing in mind the limitations of a bivariate analysis—a
dependency between age class and knowledge of understanding of the term “best before” did not
seem to emerge. It would be interesting to see if, when viewed from a multivariate perspective,
age—the eect of which was considered along with other potentially confounding factors—represents
a statistically significant factor.
As regards the term “use by”, the existence of a statistically significant dependency relationship,
albeit a weak one (p-value <0.10), was observed. On the basis of joint distributions, those who appeared
to have a better understanding of the meaning of “use by” were those who fell within the 25–34 age
group (64.18% answered the question correctly), while the fewest correct answers were observed for
those aged 15–24 (41.67% replied correctly) and those aged 65 and over (48.27% replied correctly).
3.2. Exploring the Need for Best Before Labeling on Non-Perishable Foods: A Multinomial GME Approach
3.2.1. If You Find in Your Pantry a Packet of Spaghetti without an Indication of Best Before Date,
What Would Your Reaction Be?
The FE survey also included a question which introduced us to a simulation (virtual) scenario.
The interviewees were asked how they would behave if they could found a package of spaghetti
without a best before date, and they could not remember when they bought it (Question Q7 in the FE
survey). Faced with this situation, most people would tend to consume this food if the product looked
all right and the packaging was not damaged: the percentage of Italian respondents who selected
this response category was equal to 43.25%, higher than the average percentage level for the same
statement given by all EU28 individuals who participated in the survey. Approximately, only one
Italian out of five “would use spaghetti anyway” (21.23%), while this option was selected by more
than one-third of EU28 citizens. As a result, a product without a best before indication would be used
by approximately 64% of the Italians against approximately 70% of the overall EU28 citizens.
A total 29.59% of Italians replied that they would throw it away, while 5.20% responded “don’t
know” and 0.73% declared that they never check expiry dates. Before analyzing from a multivariate
perspective using the GME multinomial regression model, the factors (both sociodemographic and
attitudinal–personal characteristics) related to the various statements (i.e., the four considered response
categories detailed below) oered by this question were distinguished the percentages of responses
to each category according to region. Figure 1shows the distribution of responses across the Italian
regions by distinguishing the situations (by reading the cartograms from the top left to the bottom
right): (a) you would use it only if the packaging is not damaged and the product looks all right;
(b) you would use it anyway; (c) you would throw it away; (d) you never look at dates or don’t know.
In order to understand the cartograms reported in Figure 1, it is important to note that the darker
the color, the larger is the percentage of individuals it represents. For example, when focusing on the
percentage of people who would use spaghetti anyway, the greatest percentage of individuals was
found in Piedmont/Valle d’Aosta (36.44%), followed by individuals residing in Umbria (32%) and
Lombardy (28.86%) while the lowest percentages—as the lightest color in the figure highlights—were
found in Liguria (13.58%), Abruzzo/Molise (13.12%), and Puglia/Basilicata (10.64%). On the other hand,
the highest percentages of people who would throw away the packet of spaghetti without a best before
Sustainability 2019,11, 6821 9 of 15
label were observed in Calabria (49.76%), Campania (40.82%), and Liguria (36.15%), while the most
knowledgeable individuals were those residing in Trentino Alto Adige, where nobody declared that
they would throw the pack of spaghetti away.
Sustainability 2018, 10, x FOR PEER REVIEW 9 of 16
Figure 1. What would happen if the term “best before” was removed from spaghetti packets?
Evidence at the regional level in Italy (percentage distribution).
3.2.2. The Multinomial GME Estimation Results
The estimation results of the GME multinomial model reported in Table 2 show the estimated
coefficients, the related standard errors, and the significance level. As previously mentioned, a key
issue in the multinomial framework is that the reported estimates referred to J-1 estimated models
(with J = 4 the number of the categories of the dependent variable), with one category/level chosen as
referent group. Table 1, below, shows the estimation results given the dependent variable “If you
found a package of spaghetti in your kitchen cupboard with no best before date indicated on the label and you
could not remember when you bought it, what would you do?”, and the reference category “Use it anyway”
to which the estimates were compared. Therefore, the parameter estimates for each outcome J of the
dependent variable are related to the referent group. As a result, the standard interpretation (for a
continuous variable) of a generic estimated coefficient in the multinomial logit is that for a unit
change in the studied covariate, the logit of outcome J relative to the referent group is expected to
Figure 1.
What would happen if the term “best before” was removed from spaghetti packets? Evidence
at the regional level in Italy (percentage distribution).
3.2.2. The Multinomial GME Estimation Results
The estimation results of the GME multinomial model reported in Table 2show the estimated
coecients, the related standard errors, and the significance level. As previously mentioned, a key
issue in the multinomial framework is that the reported estimates referred to J-1 estimated models
(with J=4 the number of the categories of the dependent variable), with one category/level chosen
as referent group. Table 1, below, shows the estimation results given the dependent variable “If you
Sustainability 2019,11, 6821 10 of 15
found a package of spaghetti in your kitchen cupboard with no best before date indicated on the label and you
could not remember when you bought it, what would you do?”, and the reference category “Use it anyway”
to which the estimates were compared. Therefore, the parameter estimates for each outcome Jof the
dependent variable are related to the referent group. As a result, the standard interpretation (for a
continuous variable) of a generic estimated coecient in the multinomial logit is that for a unit change
in the studied covariate, the logit of outcome Jrelative to the referent group is expected to change by its
respective parameter estimate (which is in log-odds units), holding constant the other variables in the
model. In order to facilitate the interpretation of the results, we computed the RRRs, which enabled us
to obtain a measure of likelihood of each specific outcome compared to the referent outcome for each
covariate in the regression models.
Before analyzing the estimation results, it is worth underlining that the estimated model revealed a
reduction of uncertainty (distance from the uniform distribution) from the collected data as highlighted
by the normalized entropy, equal to 0.8092 [
15
]—used to assess the adequacy of the estimated
model—and the pseudo-R
2
, equal to 0.1908. Therefore, the selected model may help to explain the
drivers and the profiles and behaviors of individuals concerning the dierent behaviors towards a
product (package of spaghetti) without a best before date. Another diagnostic tool that characterizes
the GME discrete choice estimator is the entropy ratio statistic (ERS =261.8), which behaves like the
likelihood ratio test by comparing the log-likelihood value of the unconstrained problem, which was
equal to
lw=Tln J
(with Tthe number of observations and Jthe number of unordered discrete choice
categories), with the same value observed for the constrained problem l=pln p=1110.6.
Focusing on the estimated coecient and the computed RRRs, the following results proved
interesting for discussion.
Firstly, focusing on sociodemographic characteristics, and specifically regarding age, we found
that older people were less likely to throw away products without best before dates. In fact, individuals
aged 55 and over were less likely to consume a product without a best before label only if the packaging
was not damaged and the product looked all right (RRR =0.707) and the same results were obtained
for the statement “you would throw it away” (RRR =0.557). The interpretation of this result—as for
all of the results in the estimated models—must consider the reference category for age (individuals
aged 40–54) and the selected referent category for the outcome variable (“Use it anyway”). Moreover,
the macro-regional context in which individuals reside was observed to be highly important. In fact,
the possibility of wasting or throwing away a product without best before dates was higher in the
southern Italian regions (RRR =2.223 for the category “You would use it only if the packaging is not
damaged and the product looks all right” and RRR =3.142 for the category “You would throw it away”)
compared to north-western regions. However, it is worth noting that all the macro-areas (north-east,
center, and south, except for islands) had RRRs greater than 1, thus highlighting a higher likelihood of
wasting a product without a best before dates compared to the north-western regions. Once again,
as regards
the macro-regional context, it was observed that people residing in southern regions were
also more likely to not check expiration dates on products (RRR =2.682). As regards household size,
significant relationships were observed for a household of four or more people; individuals in these
households were more likely to check the packaging and the state of the product in order to decide
whether to eat it or not (RRR =1.782). On the other hand, households composed of two individuals
were more likely (RRR =2.054) to throw away a product without a best before label compared than
single person households.
Secondly, attitudinal variables were found to play an important role. Individuals who tried to
minimize FW at home (i.e., by planning their shopping and meals better) or out-of-home (i.e., by
checking/asking for smaller portion sizes in shops were those who were more likely to waste products
(in our case the spaghetti) without best before labels (RRR =1.401 and RRR =1.775, respectively).
On the
other hand, people who asked for smaller portion sizes in shops were also those most likely to
never check the expiry dates on products.
Sustainability 2019,11, 6821 11 of 15
Table 2. Generalized maximum entropy (GME) multinomial logit model: estimation results.
If You Found a Package of Spaghetti in Your Kitchen Cupboard with No “Best Before” Date Indicated on the Label and You Could Not
Remember When You Bought It, What Would You Do? (Dependent Variable—Reference Category: “Use It Anyway”)
You Would Use It Only If the Packaging Is Not
Damaged and the Product Looks All Right You Would Throw It Away You Never Look at Dates
Coef. Std. Err. z P >z RRR Coef. Std. Err. z P >z RRR Coef. Std. Err. z P >z RRR
If you no longer found best before dates on other
non-perishable foods, how would you respond?
(reference: You would miss this information)
You do not need this information
0.229
0.183
1.250
0.212 0.796
1.581
0.237
6.670
0.000 0.206
1.120
0.382 2.930 0.003 0.326
DK/NA 0.817 0.784 1.040 0.297 2.264 0.405 0.848 0.480 0.633 1.500 1.355 0.938 1.450 0.148 3.878
AGE (ref. 40–54 years)
15–24
0.106
0.337
0.320
0.752 0.899
0.365
0.388
0.940
0.348 0.694 0.161 0.647 0.250 0.803 1.175
25–39 0.053 0.273 0.190 0.846 1.054 0.206 0.291 0.710 0.480 1.228
0.474
0.600 0.790 0.429 0.622
55 years and older
0.347
0.207
1.680
0.094 0.707
0.585
0.227
2.580
0.010 0.557 0.484 0.360 1.340 0.179 1.622
Region—Italy—NUTS 1 (ref. north-west)
North-east 0.744 0.250 2.970 0.003 2.105 0.569 0.289 1.970 0.049 1.766 0.457 0.454 1.010 0.314 1.579
Centre 0.427 0.247 1.730 0.084 1.532 0.522 0.278 1.880 0.060 1.685 0.259 0.448 0.580 0.564 1.295
South 0.799 0.261 3.060 0.002 2.223 1.145 0.281 4.080 0.000 3.142 0.986 0.428 2.310 0.021 2.682
Islands 0.499 0.308 1.620 0.106 1.647 0.537 0.337 1.590 0.111 1.712 0.146 0.582 0.250 0.801 1.158
Type of community (ref. rural area or village)
Small or middle-sized town
0.088
0.220
0.400
0.690 0.916
0.004
0.248
0.010
0.989 0.997 0.382 0.431 0.890 0.375 1.466
Large town 0.159 0.272 0.580 0.559 1.173 0.259 0.301 0.860 0.389 1.296 0.610 0.501 1.220 0.224 1.840
Correct answer towards Expiration dates
0.056
0.121
0.460
0.644 0.946 0.027 0.133 0.200 0.839 1.027 0.136 0.212 0.640 0.521 1.146
Household size, aged 15+(ref. 1)
2 0.340 0.248 1.370 0.170 1.405 0.720 0.284 2.540 0.011 2.054 0.689 0.452 1.520 0.128 1.991
3
0.172
0.273
0.630
0.528 0.842 0.183 0.309 0.590 0.553 1.201 0.475 0.491 0.970 0.333 1.608
4+0.578 0.291 1.980 0.047 1.782 0.497 0.336 1.480 0.139 1.643 0.467 0.556 0.840 0.401 1.595
How often do you check use by or best before dates? (ref.
“always”)
Often 0.207 0.217 0.950 0.342 1.229
0.518
0.259
2.000
0.046 0.596 0.175 0.368 0.480 0.634 1.192
Sometimes 0.013 0.333 0.040 0.969 1.013
0.330
0.403
0.820
0.412 0.719
1.255
0.986 1.270 0.203 0.285
Rarely
0.258
0.448
0.580
0.564 0.772
1.096
0.597
1.830
0.067 0.334
3.239
3.005 1.080 0.281 0.039
Never
1.918
0.686
2.800
0.005 0.147
0.697
0.539
1.290
0.195 0.498
1.164
1.069 1.090 0.276 0.312
Actors you think play a role in preventing FW
Food manufacturers
0.219
0.200
1.100
0.273 0.803
0.248
0.219
1.130
0.258 0.781
0.131
0.345 0.380 0.704 0.877
Shop and retailers
0.216
0.191
1.130
0.258 0.806
0.304
0.211
1.440
0.149 0.738
0.211
0.330 0.640 0.521 0.809
What would help you to waste less food at home?
Better shopping and meal planning by your household (M) 0.337 0.180 1.870 0.062 1.401 0.045 0.199 0.230 0.822 1.046 0.253 0.315 0.810 0.421 1.288
Availability of smaller portion sizes in shops 0.574 0.200 2.870 0.004 1.775 0.324 0.222 1.460 0.145 1.382 0.604 0.335 1.810 0.071 1.830
Notes: Number of observations =990; Entropy for probabilities =1110.6; Normalized entropy =0.8092; Entropy Ratio Statistics (ERS) =261.8; Criterion F(log L) =5459.1532.
Sustainability 2019,11, 6821 12 of 15
4. Discussion and Conclusions
Best before dates were first introduced by the EU in 1979 and even today, Italian consumers, as
well as consumers in other European countries, are not sure of or cannot correctly interpret these
labels on food products, as they confuse them with a true expiry date aecting the food safety of
a product, like the use by date. Consequently, many consumers throw food away when they are
uncertain whether it is safe to eat [
21
]; the confusion and misunderstanding between the meanings of
expiration dates has been recognized as one of the most important causes of FW [9,14,22,2931].
Judging from the answers given during the FE survey (n =425), the term “best before” is still very
important, as it indicates when the quality of a product will start to decline. In fact, focusing on the
Italian context, 69% of Italians said that they would miss the label (compared to an EU28 overall value
of 44%), and the rest of the citizens required this information on some non-perishable products such as
rice, pasta, coee, or tea. A total 2% did not express an opinion on this statement.
The descriptive results of the FE 425 survey must first of all bring attention to the eects that
a possible action aimed at removing the expiration date from some foods could have in terms of
reduction of food waste. At this point, the research question on which our paper was based arises:
How could any action in this area be implemented in every single country? Specifically, should the
application be uniform within the macro-areas existing in each member country? Does the local context
play an important role here too?
This survey gave us the opportunity to evaluate Italian consumers’—thus focusing on a single
national context—reactions against an eective action represented by removing the expiry date from
spaghetti. Considering those individuals who would still use the product even in the absence of the
best before label and who would probably use their sensory skills (vision and smell) to evaluate the
wholesomeness and safe-integrity of the product as a reference category, we analyzed the characteristics
of those people who—in dierent percentages among the regional (macro) areas of Italy—would use
the product only if the packaging seemed undamaged and the product seemed edible, rather than
those who would who throw the spaghetti away in any case and those who never check expiry dates.
Our results can be addressed to the strategy to be pursued at an international level in order to
halve FW by 2030, as envisaged by the European Union in the circular economy package [
31
,
32
],
which is
also one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 12.3). Indeed, in this
study,
by referring
to the results of the multinomial regression model, we sought to identify profiles
(groups) of those individuals with whom it is necessary to intervene in order to correct any wasteful
behavior, and the individuals who misunderstand the real meaning of the best before label.
The individuals who would throw away the product in any case if the expiry date (best before)
was no longer expressed on the package proved to be mainly individuals under the age of 55, thus
confirming that older people are more likely to use their sensory skills [
25
] to determine the quality
and safety of a product rather than checking expiry dates. Moreover, at the Italian national level these
individuals mainly resided in southern Italian regions. However, it is important to note that the most
valuable macro-area was represented by the north-west, since all the other macro-areas had higher
RRR values (>1).
Those who would “conditionally” throw away a packet of spaghetti without an expiry date and
only keep it if both the package seemed undamaged and the product seemed edible were those who
reside in southern and north-eastern macro-areas, and were part of large families (households with
four or more individuals), probably with children within the family nucleus that might make people
more attentive towards expiry dates. To complete this profile, our results suggested that people who
are concerned about FW pay more attention to packaging and product aesthetics. This result may
confirm that consumers who are aware of FW have a better attitude towards it [
8
,
9
,
33
,
34
], try to plan
their shopping better [
17
,
31
,
34
,
35
], and are ready to ask for smaller portions when they go out for
lunch or dinner [16,36].
The analysis at the national level once again highlighted the existence of dierences in behavior
towards FW across countries (specifically, in this study, the dierences observed between Italian people
Sustainability 2019,11, 6821 13 of 15
and the overall EU28) and, even more importantly, the validity and strong need to carefully consider
the territorial dimension (at the maximum level of disaggregation, compatibly with the statistical
significance of the results) in the analyses, as underlined by Secondi et al. [9], for the inclusion of this
dimension in explaining of the variability associated with this type of behavior, and by Corrado et al. [
4
]
with regard to the need for surveys and statistical surveys which give the chance to policy-makers of
taking decisions locally or at a greater level of disaggregation, going deeper up to the municipality level.
At these levels of disaggregation (European LAU-1 or LAU-2 levels), non-parametric estimators—such
as the GME estimator used in this study—can oer further valuable advantages.
Furthermore, our results dierent ways of applying a hypothetical removal of expiry dates within a
single country. For example, having identified dierent behaviors at the regional macro-area level—also
confirmed by the estimated regression model—the practical suggestion for policy-makers could be to
first implement targeted preliminary actions (information and awareness-raising campaigns) on the
role of expiry dates and on their actual meaning in specifically selected areas—i.e., the groups living in
those regions where an incorrect behavior is expected to be observed. Only after having bridged this
information gap should the best before date be eliminated from products, therefore hopefully leading
to an eective result of this concrete action in reducing FW.
Further research should be carried out in order to pursue these objectives in terms of both
understanding the drivers linked to FW, and in terms of statistical methodology capable of providing
a correct and proper interpretation of these phenomena. However, this study could be the basis
for the implementation of eective policies on which to apply impact assessments. At the same
time,
the stimulus
towards uniform investigations and surveys, thus respecting the coherence and
comparability dimensions of the statistical information provided by Eurostat, and implemented
to ensure statistical significance at local level—for example by using small area estimation (SAE)
methods—could be one of the next FW reduction targets to be achieved using a bottom-up strategy,
that is, by considering the local level as being capable of reducing the overall amount of FW generated.
Funding: This research received no external funding.
Conflicts of Interest: The author declares no conflict of interest.
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2019 by the author. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access
article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution
(CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
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Nowadays, the scientific interest is focused more and more on the development of new strategies in recycling of waste products as well as on the development of clean technologies due to the increased environmental pollution. In this work we studied the valorization of an expired cheese-tomato flavor corn snack, which is polysaccharide food product, by producing advanced hybrid magnetic materials for environmental remediation purposes. The carbonization-chemical activation of this snack using potassium hydroxide leads to a microporous activated carbon with high surface area (SgBET ~800 m2/g). The magnetic hybrid material was synthesized via an in-situ technique using iron acetate complex as the precursor to produce iron based magnetic nanoparticles. The resulting material retains a fraction of the microporous structure with surface area SgBET ~500 m2/g. Such material consists, of homogenously dispersed magnetic isolated zero valent iron nanoparticles and of iron carbides (Fe3C), into the carbon matrix. The magnetic carbon exhibited high adsorption capacity in Cr(VI) removal applications following a pseudosecond order kinetic model. The maximum adsorption capacity was 88.382 mgCr(VI)/gAC at pH = 3. Finally, oxidation experiments, in combination with FT-IR, Mössbauer, and VSM measurements indicated that the possible Cr6+ removal mechanism involves oxidation of iron phases and reduction of Cr6+ to Cr3+.
... final consumption at home and at food services) represent the most critical steps in terms of thrown away food. Unsustainable and uneducated food consumption behaviors are the results of multiple variables such as bad purchases planning, incorrect labels' interpretation, unsuitable leftovers recovery into tasty and nutritious recipes and incorrect storage activities (Mond ejar-Jim enez et al., 2016; Roe et al., 2018;Secondi, 2019). However, among others, one of the main drivers of food waste behavior, either in developed or developing countries, is due to the unawareness of the wastage-related losses of natural resources required to produce raw ingredients and transform them into meals, as well as the ignorance of the food waste associated environmental impacts (estimated in over 3.3 Gigatons of CO2e each year) and the related financial losses (estimated in over US$1 trillion) (FAO, 2013;Poore and Nemecek, 2018;Our World in Data, 2020;Adamashvili et al., 2019;Fiore et al., 2015). ...
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Purpose - The study proposes Material Flow Analysis (MFA) methodology as a tool to measure and qualify food waste in the Italian beef supply chain in each stage of the food supply chain, from farm to fork. In particular, the authors attempt to: (1) measure resources consumption and waste generation toward companies' and policymakers' sustainable evaluations; (2) enhance consumers' education in the field of agri-food resilience and sustainability. Design/methodology/approach - MFA is applied to the entire Italian sector of beef consumed as packaged fresh product in 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic. The analysis regards bovine, which represent roughly one-third of the national meat flow. To collect data, bottom-up and top-down mixed approach is applied. Subsequently, MFA results are used to calculate the wastage-related losses in terms of embedded natural resources (e.g. water, energy). Findings - In 2020, it results that the Italian meat industry slaughtered more than 1.15 Mt of bovine to produce approximately 0.29 Mt of fresh meat, 0.69 Mt of by-products and over 0.015 Mt of food waste at households, while 0.15 Mt of beef meat is destined to catering services and food industry (out-of-boundaries). In terms of hidden natural resources, it emerged that, on average, more than 94bn m3 of water, approximately 101,000 TJ of energy and over 11,500 t of PET and PE trays are required to sustain the entire beef system. Originality/value - This research is one of the few studies proposing MFA methodology as a tool to measure food waste and hidden associated flows in the agri-food sector. This analysis shows its utility in terms of natural resources (water, energy, materials) and waste quality/quantity evaluation, hidden flows accounting and development of new educational strategies toward food waste minimization and sustainability at household consumption.
... L. Wilson, et al., 2019). Several studies have explored the impact on food waste of either standardising date labelling (WRAP, 2017) or removing certain types of date labels altogether (Secondi, 2019). In the UK, food labelling guidance has recommended providing clear storage advice that, where possible, is supported by symbols or graphics (WRAP, 2017). ...
Technical Report
This report is a brief overview of the findings from Project 1.2.2 Packaging Design and Information Research which was conducted via online interviews in households. An overview of Project 1.2.2 can be provided on request. Project 1.2.2. aligns with the REDUCE and the ENGAGE programs of the FFWCRC’s activities. The aim is to understand consumer’s perceptions of food waste with a view to finding opportunities for packaging to reduce food loss and waste. In summary the results show that there are highly complex issues and many contributing factors to food waste in the household. Improved packaging and labelling can play a role in reducing household food waste. On pack information could be provided that allows consumers to make informed decisions on storage and reduce waste. However, as consumers become familiar with products, they rarely read the packaging so this would have to be on new products. Date labelling is reasonably well understood but consumers would like to see some consistency and certainty surrounding how it is implemented. People engage with on pack information differently depending on the food category. Discounted fresh food is seen to be of lesser quality and more likely to expire quickly. On pack nutrition and allergen advice is sought for new product purchases but not for subsequent purchases. Consumers use sensory testing (smell, look, feel) to assess food quality and make decisions about disposal. This could be supplemented by food waste reduction information. Consumers do not desire on pack storage information as they believe they already know how to store food. There are conflicting messages between instore storage and advice on packaging. This contributes to consumer confusion and poor storage decisions. Consumers would need to be prompted by other forms of communication that they need to engage with on pack information about storage and waste reduction strategies. Consumers have not made the conceptual link between food packaging and reducing food waste. The disposal of flexible packaging is an issue as it is a major contributor to household waste (not just food waste). Consumers want clear and easy to read information. They prefer colourful and visual information that communicates shelf life and storage conditions (e.g. refrigerate after opening). Portion controlled and serving size information is useful for consumers to decide what to buy. However, some of the serving information is ‘unreasonable’ in that serving size is kept deliberately small for the purposes of marketing of energy dense foods. Portions should be based on actual consumer usage and relate to number of normal sized servings. The quality of packaging materials should match the storage and transportation requirements. Some packaging contributes to food waste as it is not fit for purpose. This is especially in foods such as salads which use ‘flimsy’ plastics.
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Purpose: People's purchasing and consumption patterns have been substantially influenced by different behaviours. The widespread concern about reducing food waste has resulted in the need for environmental concern. Consumer food purchases differ from each other when consuming in dine-in outlets where different factors can result in food trash leading to a serious threat in restaurants. Food waste has a significant impact on businesses across the country; this study will indicate by understanding the consumers' behavioural patterns whether or not the problem of food waste can be improved. This research helps to know the changes in consumers' intention consumption behaviours regarding food waste in dining outlets to avoid and reduce it. Design/Methodology: This research is based on secondary sources acquired from extensive literature, case studies, journal articles, and internet searches. Findings: According to the findings, society is becoming alert to the food waste problem and are taking proactive actions to prevent food waste in their households as well. The influence of the pandemic in 2020 has also served as a warning in every outlet regarding the environmental effects of food waste and pollution. This has enabled people to collaborate from the comfort of their own homes, and they are more cautious about purchasing food anywhere they go to dine and have a strong notion to reduce waste on their part. Because of the pandemic, the community's broad waste patterns have slowed, protecting the environment in the process and has given hope for sustainability. Research limitations/implications: Restaurant food waste is India's growing problem. In addition to this, people are suffering a crisis due to the pandemic, which has resulted in food scarcity which is also leading to hunger. Because waste is one of the country's existing challenges due to its vast population, inefficient waste management methods must be fixed to minimize the possible risk of food waste contamination in households and food businesses. Originality/value: There is a high demand in India for an efficient strategy to prevent future contamination of food waste by any further upcoming situation. With the rising population and urbanization, individuals have to change themselves to a more efficient in handling the situation by understanding the problem of waste that will help themselves and the environment to the greatest. This research intends to address the challenges of food waste generated by restaurants by consumers, as well as potential methods and backup plans for overcoming the food waste disaster with long-term solutions. Paper Type: Review Paper
Article
Full-text available
Purpose: People's purchasing and consumption patterns have been substantially influenced by different behaviours. The widespread concern about reducing food waste has resulted in the need for environmental concern. Consumer food purchases differ from each other when consuming in dine-in outlets where different factors can result in food trash leading to a serious threat in restaurants. Food waste has a significant impact on businesses across the country; this study will indicate by understanding the consumers' behavioural patterns whether or not the problem of food waste can be improved. This research helps to know the changes in consumers' intention consumption behaviours regarding food waste in dining outlets to avoid and reduce it. Design/Methodology: This research is based on secondary sources acquired from extensive literature, case studies, journal articles, and internet searches. Findings: According to the findings, society is becoming alert to the food waste problem and are taking proactive actions to prevent food waste in their households as well. The influence of the pandemic in 2020 has also served as a warning in every outlet regarding the environmental effects of food waste and pollution. This has enabled people to collaborate from the comfort of their own homes, and they are more cautious about purchasing food anywhere they go to dine and have a strong notion to reduce waste on their part. Because of the pandemic, the community's broad waste patterns have slowed, protecting the environment in the process and has given hope for sustainability. Research limitations/implications: Restaurant food waste is India's growing problem. In addition to this, people are suffering a crisis due to the pandemic, which has resulted in food scarcity which is also leading to hunger. Because waste is one of the country's existing challenges due to its vast population, inefficient waste management methods must be fixed to minimize the possible risk of food waste contamination in households and food businesses. Originality/value: There is a high demand in India for an efficient strategy to prevent future contamination of food waste by any further upcoming situation. With the rising population and urbanization, individuals have to change themselves to a more efficient in handling the situation by understanding the problem of waste that will help themselves and the environment to the greatest. This research intends to address the challenges of food waste generated by restaurants by consumers, as well as potential methods and backup plans for overcoming the food waste disaster with long-term solutions.
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Household food waste represents one of the main challenges threatening the sustainability of modern food systems globally. As is widely recognised, a deeper understanding of wasteful behaviour profiles is the starting point of designing intervention strategies. The overall objective of this research is to explore the role of psychological factors that influence household wasteful food behaviour in Italy and to profile consumers with heterogeneous personal attitudes towards wasting food. Starting with data collected through a web-based survey realized on a sample of 530 individuals responsible for household shopping, a principal component analysis and a two-step cluster analysis revealed three different segments of consumers with heterogeneous wasteful behaviours. The clusters differ in relation to psychological factors, such as moral attitudes and concerns about and intentions to reduce food waste. The study findings provide insights for implementing prevention, reduction, and recovery strategies tailored to these different consumer profiles.
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Food waste is one of the most important concerns in modern societies. This is because food waste has a negative impact on the environment, society and the economy. In Greece, research on consumer behaviour and food waste is still nascent. In recent times, the COVID-19 global pandemic has brought about changes in consumer behaviour in purchase, consumption and food disposal. This paper presents aspects of the behaviour of Greek consumers regarding food waste during the lockdown imposed due to the pandemic. This nationwide survey took place in April 2020 during the first lockdown period, exclusively through an electronic questionnaire and presents the results obtained from the 2205 participants. The results show a high degree of awareness by the Greek consumers' relative to the food waste problem. This study also reveals stability in shopping frequency (supermarket/groceries) and spending for food, as also an increase in food quantities purchased especially by young people and mostly through product offers. Further, a cluster analysis was performed with the distribution of the participants, based on behaviours related to food waste, revealing significant differences among seven types of consumers. Finally, a multinomial logistic regression was adopted in order to provide a thorough understanding of how specific variables behave within the seven-cluster model and their prediction ability.
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Despite the growth of group purchasing, few studies consider group purchasing with bundled products. Generally, an individual buyer may be reluctant to buy a bundle and prefer to buy a portion of it. By group buying, buyers purchase their products with lower price. We proposed a group purchasing structure for bundles of items in which buyers’ purchasing power is a function of time and bundles’ expiration date. A platform is also considered that charges sellers after selling their bundles. Three strategies are proposed in terms of three problems. In problem (I), a group of buyers wants to buy those products whose bundle price they can pay for in full and maximise their total savings. In problem (II), which is an extension of problem (I), the products’ importance is also considered. In problem (III), cohorts of buyers try to buy all their products, and the platform could pay the remaining price of the unsuccessful bundles. Here, the remaining products are in the platform’s ownership. Based on the results, while the first strategy accounts for most of buyers’ savings, the other two strategies allow more purchases. The highest platform income is for problem (III) due to the possibility of selling additional products.
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Following the increasing pressure to reduce food waste at supermarkets, many retailers are starting initiatives to prevent the disposal of food items or to manage the waste produced in a more sustainable way. The practice of applying discounts on close-to-date and other suboptimal products is becoming popular, as reducing price pushes consumers to accept small defects of food products. Here, the attitude of 218 supermarket customers towards these discounts is analysed, basing on a questionnaire survey. Two-thirds of the sample declare to be interested in discounts on close-to-date products; the determinants of this interest are studied through a Generalized Maximum Entropy model against a set of socio-demographic and behavioral factors. Results suggest that the interest towards discounts on close-to-date product is primarily driven by a general attitude to save money in food shopping. However, an interesting positive effect is observed for the use of a shopping list at the supermarket, which may be linked to a greater attention on food planning and, consequently, to a lower production of food waste at home. In conclusion, date-based pricing seems to be an effective strategy to address food waste reduction in a sustainable management perspective, for its attractive capacity on different profiles of consumers.
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About one third of the food produced globally is wasted along the food chain, representing a burden for the environment and an inefficiency of the food system. Tackling food waste is a priority on the global political agenda to guarantee food security. Defining a methodology for food waste quantification is key to monitoring progress towards the achievement of reduction targets. This paper summarises the outcomes of a workshop on food waste accounting co-organised by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre and Directorate-General on Health and Food Safety with the aim of stimulating harmonisation of methodologies, identifying challenges, opportunities, and further advancement for food waste accounting. The paper presents methodo-logical aspects, e.g. system boundaries, reliability of data, accounting of water flows, to ensure better support to food waste policy design and interventions. It addresses all the actors of the food supply chain, governments, and research institutions.
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In recent years, food waste has received growing interest from local, national and European policymakers, international organisations, NGOs as well as academics from various disciplinary fields. Increasing concerns about food security and environmental impacts, such as resource depletion and greenhouse gas emissions attributed to food waste, have intensified attention to the topic. While food waste occurs in all stages of the food supply chain, private households have been identified as key actors in food waste generation. However, the evidence on why food waste occurs remains scattered. This paper maps the still small but expanding academic territory of consumer food waste by systematically reviewing empirical studies on food waste practices as well as distilling factors that foster and impede the generation of food waste on the household level. Moreover, we briefly discuss the contributions of different social ontologies, more particularly psychology-related approaches and social practice theory. The analysis reveals food waste as a complex and multi-faceted issue that cannot be attributed to single variables; this also calls for a stronger integration of different disciplinary perspectives. Mapping the determinants of waste generation deepens the understanding of household practices and helps design food waste prevention strategies. Finally, we link the identified factors with a set of policy, business, and retailer options.
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This research analyses the impact that the level of understanding of date marking (among other influences) has on the food waste behaviour of consumers in the European Union focusing on a comparison between European Union countries. The data were extracted from the Dataset Flash Eurobarometer 425: Food waste and date marking (European Commission in Flash eurobarometer 425: food waste and date marking, European Commission, Brussels, 2015) and structural equation models to estimate the strength of these influences on behaviour. The results show that socio-demographics (age; education; occupation); behavioural control (perceptions regarding the need for better and clearer information about ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ date labelling on food products; frequency of checking date labels when shopping and preparing meals); and understanding of ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ labels have significant effects on behaviours related to lower food waste (use of senses instead of labels to decide whether to eat or throw away food e.g., non-perishable foods from own kitchen cupboard with no ‘best before’ date indicated on the label which were not bought recently; or food products which must be used within a certain number of days after opening and are past that; and the need for ‘best before’ dates on non-perishable foods, such as rice, pasta, coffee or tea). The stated understanding of date labelling is a key influence in all models and explains a consistent fifth (ceteris paribus) of the variance in behaviour.
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Purpose Halving food waste has been included within the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. Food wasted out-of-home is the second source of food waste. However, the majority of the studies have focused on home generated food waste, and still little is known about out-of-home food waste and how it is managed by food service companies. The purpose of this paper is to adopt a double perspective in analyzing food waste generated at a food service level, by focusing on both the client and business perspective. Design/methodology/approach First, from the client perspective, the authors aim at analyzing consumer out-of-home habits, self-reported waste quantification, and doggy bag usage by reporting the results of an exploratory survey which involved 411 individuals living in central Italy. Second, from a business perspective, the authors analyzed an award-winning practice that manages out-of-home food waste in Italy by combining food surplus management and digital solutions with a profitable business model innovation. Findings Results obtained from the two perspectives of analysis support the need of business investments in innovations and digital solutions, in order to meet client needs and behavior, thus contributing to better manage and reduce food surplus and waste. Practical implications This study will raise practitioners’ knowledge on the advantages of digital solution in food surplus management, along with a better comprehension on food waste behavior from the client perspective. Originality/value This is the first study that analyses out-of-home waste from both the client and business perspective, emphasizing how digital solutions can help in reducing the phenomenon.
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Food loss and waste (FLW) is one of the most serious social, economic and environmental issues undermining our planet’s sustainability, and by reducing it some UN Sustainable Development Goals may be achieved. The European Commission Circular Economy (CE) Package foresees FLW prevention, but to date few studies have adopted the CE perspective for analysing FLW. In 2017 only 20% of the world’s 50 largest food companies have established FLW reduction programs. However, reducing FLW is also beneficial for company economic sustainability since it was observed that for every dollar invested in reducing FLW there is a saving of 14 dollars in operating costs. Therefore, main aim of this research is to quantify the main FLW and their causes along the FSC of the pasta production and to understand if these FLW could be reused according to the CE approach. Based on a single case study analysis, for the first time, this study quantifies FLW along the pasta supply chain, emphasizing FLW valorisation from a CE perspective using the global Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard. Our results show that pasta supply chain is a good example of CE as little is lost. Food losses in the field are very limited (less than 2%), while the straw obtained during the harvest is normally used as animal feed and litter. The losses generated during the grinding of the wheat and pasta production amounted to approximately 2%. In line with previous literature, most FLW occurs during the cultivation and consumption, thus demonstrating that further research is required in order to reduce FLW in these two supply chain phases.
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The effect of expiry date communication on acceptability and wasting risk of fresh-cut lettuce was investigated. Fresh-cut lettuce was packed in plastic pouches reporting or not the expiry date on the label and stored at recommended (8 °C) or abuse temperature (12 °C) for increasing time up to 21 days. Lettuce was assessed during storage for colour, total viable count, consumer rejection and wasting risk. Independently on storage temperature, the presence of the expiry date caused an increase of wasting risk. When lettuce was stored at 8 °C, about 4% packages were estimated to be wasted within the expiry date (7 days). Even a lower amount of waste was estimated when expiry date was not reported. Within 7 days of storage at 12 °C, 12% of the packages without expiry date was estimated to be wasted. This percentage increased to 27% when the expiry date was printed on the lettuce label. Results emphasise the dramatic effect of the presence of the expiry date on the consumer decision to waste food.
Book
This book provides a framework for info-metrics-the science of modeling, inference, and reasoning under conditions of noisy and insufficient information. Info-metrics is an inherently interdisciplinary framework that emerged from the intersection of information theory, statistical inference, and decision-making under uncertainty. It allows us to process the available information with minimal reliance on assumptions that cannot be validated. This book focuses on unifying all information processing and model building within a single constrained optimization framework. It provides a complete framework for modeling and inference, rather than a problem-specific model. The framework evolves from the simple premise that our available information is often insufficient to provide a unique answer for decisions we wish to make. Each decision, or solution, is derived from the available input information along with a choice of inferential procedure. The book contains many multidisciplinary applications that demonstrate the simplicity and generality of the framework in real-world settings: These include initial diagnosis at an emergency room, optimal dose decisions, election forecasting, network and information aggregation, weather pattern analyses, portfolio allocation, inference of strategic behavior, incorporation of prior information, option pricing, and modeling an interacting social system. This book presents simple derivations of the key results that are necessary to understand and apply the fundamental concepts to a variety of problems. Derivations are often supported by graphical illustrations. The book is designed to be accessible for graduate students, researchers, and practitioners across the disciplines, requiring only basic quantitative skills and a little persistence.
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Background Decreasing food waste has become an important area of food policy. This paper investigates the relationship between food waste reduction and food safety risks. It is a frequent question in both public and professional discussions that how the utilization of expired food stuffs and leftovers could be solved without compromising food safety. Scope and Approach The most important food waste reduction theories and initiatives are listed and evaluated. Key Findings and Conclusions It is challenging to find the golden rule of balance between food waste and food safety. Solutions that seem to be credible often raise the risk to consumers. In order to meet both aspects, cooperation and co-development of food chain actors (consumers and authorities as well) are needed.
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Approximately one third of global food production is wasted along the food supply chain causing economic, environmental and social impacts. At EU level, restaurants occupy the second highest position in the classification of bodies responsible for food waste generation and a significant share of restaurant costs “goes” to waste. However, few studies have been carried out on the factors and managerial implications associated to this type of waste. By introducing the GME estimator, this paper focuses on data collected in 127 restaurants located in the regions of Lazio and Tuscany (Italy) with two specific aims. Firstly, to propose a theoretical framework for exploring factors that make restaurants waste food. Secondly, to comprehend whether food waste in restaurants is related to cooking and to clients. The results show that the attitude of restaurant managers as well as types of menus served and restaurant size play significant roles.