Every year, one third of the global food supply is wasted through post-harvest, distribution, and household food losses. In a global food system, food consumption and waste practices have substantial environmental consequences and high levels of waste can reduce food access for the world’s poor. In the developed world, food waste occurs most heavily in the retail and consumer stages of the food supply chain. The U.S. Economic Research Service estimated that in 1995, 26 percent of the total edible food supply was wasted by individuals and the food-service industry. Using theory of utility maximization and imperfect information, this thesis uses a survey to explore whether consumers lack information that may contribute to reductions in food waste and what types of information would be most beneficial in decreasing household food waste. In addition, the study tracks food waste over the course of two weeks in a college cafeteria to examine whether an increase in information about the quantity of food waste leads to a decrease in plate waste. This study found that information on financial savings, “sell by” dates and other expiration codes, and the quantity of food wasted may be beneficial in reducing consumer food wastages. Further research in the area is necessary in order to determine the scope of the problem and possible solutions.
Includes bibliographical references.