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Is it more convenient to waste? Trade-offs between grocery shopping and waste behaviors

Published: June 2022
Bibliographic reference: Ellison, B., Fan, L., & Wilson, N. L. W. (2022). Is it more convenient to waste? trade-offs between grocery shopping and waste behaviors. Agricultural Economics, 00, 1– 15.

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grocery shopping


Efforts to reduce food loss and waste are being made across the supply chain, with households targeted as one of the most wasteful nodes in the chain. In this article, we consider the impact of changing one household food management behavior: grocery shopping. Households that shop more frequently typically incur less food waste. This has resulted in a call for households to adopt a just-in-time (JIT) grocery shopping approach, taking smaller trips to the store more frequently. While households may be able to reduce food waste by adopting a JIT shopping approach, their willingness to shop more frequently is less clear. The purpose of this research is to examine the trade-offs between grocery shopping frequency and food waste behaviors among U.S. households. We employ a choice experiment to determine whether consumers are willing to reduce waste by adopting a JIT shopping approach. We explore heterogeneity across households and consider the potential welfare impacts associated with moving to a JIT model of shopping. Our results indicate that, on average, consumers were averse to adding extra shopping trips to their weekly grocery shopping routines and would need to be compensated to do so (mean: $24/week for one extra trip). Consumers would need to see approximately a 12 percentage point reduction in waste to be indifferent to adding one shopping trip to their weekly routine. Spending more to waste less resulted in more welfare gains, on average, yet there is significant heterogeneity in grocery shopping preferences.

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