Shop More, Buy Less: A Qualitative Investigation Into Consumer Decisions That Lead To Food Waste In U.S. Households

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/332880
Title:
Shop More, Buy Less: A Qualitative Investigation Into Consumer Decisions That Lead To Food Waste In U.S. Households
Author:
Ligon, Victoria K.
Issue Date:
2014
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
Estimates suggest that 40% of the food grown in the United States ends up in landfills. Household losses are the highest contributor to volume of waste overall, and individual households are estimated to discard around 15% of their total acquired food inventory. Consumers are generally waste averse and a vast majority have been shown to object to wasting food in particular, yet almost all consumers discard a substantial volume of potentially edible food each year. This exploratory qualitative study sought to uncover underlying psychological mechanisms behind this discrepancy between attitude and behavior by exploring the decision-making processes that consumers engage in as they acquire, prepare, consume and discard food. By exploring the patterns of thinking that shape household provisioning practices through an initial in-depth interview, a two-week long household food diary and a follow-up interview with 17 diverse consumers, a grounded theory emerged to explain this counter-intuitive behavior pattern. Extending research from behavioral economics and decision making literature, data from this study suggests the following: 1) people evaluate cost of goods based on incomplete value estimations that fail to account for the costs associated with discarding potentially edible foods; 2) costs associated with the act of shopping are salient and encourage less frequent provisioning trips; 3) people do not adequately account for costs associated with overbuying and storing food; and 4) consumer strategies aimed at maximize efficiency in food acquisition through less frequent shopping trips may actually result in increased inefficiency in the form of greater waste and higher overall cost of goods. Based on emergent findings, a strategy for waste avoidance is presented along with managerial implications.
Type:
text; Electronic Thesis
Keywords:
Consumption; Decision making; Food waste; Qualitative; Theory of practice; Family & Consumer Sciences; Cognitive biases
Degree Name:
M.S.
Degree Level:
masters
Degree Program:
Graduate College; Family & Consumer Sciences
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Advisor:
Bhappu, Anita D.

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoen_USen
dc.titleShop More, Buy Less: A Qualitative Investigation Into Consumer Decisions That Lead To Food Waste In U.S. Householdsen_US
dc.creatorLigon, Victoria K.en_US
dc.contributor.authorLigon, Victoria K.en_US
dc.date.issued2014-
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstractEstimates suggest that 40% of the food grown in the United States ends up in landfills. Household losses are the highest contributor to volume of waste overall, and individual households are estimated to discard around 15% of their total acquired food inventory. Consumers are generally waste averse and a vast majority have been shown to object to wasting food in particular, yet almost all consumers discard a substantial volume of potentially edible food each year. This exploratory qualitative study sought to uncover underlying psychological mechanisms behind this discrepancy between attitude and behavior by exploring the decision-making processes that consumers engage in as they acquire, prepare, consume and discard food. By exploring the patterns of thinking that shape household provisioning practices through an initial in-depth interview, a two-week long household food diary and a follow-up interview with 17 diverse consumers, a grounded theory emerged to explain this counter-intuitive behavior pattern. Extending research from behavioral economics and decision making literature, data from this study suggests the following: 1) people evaluate cost of goods based on incomplete value estimations that fail to account for the costs associated with discarding potentially edible foods; 2) costs associated with the act of shopping are salient and encourage less frequent provisioning trips; 3) people do not adequately account for costs associated with overbuying and storing food; and 4) consumer strategies aimed at maximize efficiency in food acquisition through less frequent shopping trips may actually result in increased inefficiency in the form of greater waste and higher overall cost of goods. Based on emergent findings, a strategy for waste avoidance is presented along with managerial implications.en_US
dc.typetexten
dc.typeElectronic Thesisen
dc.subjectConsumptionen_US
dc.subjectDecision makingen_US
dc.subjectFood wasteen_US
dc.subjectQualitativeen_US
dc.subjectTheory of practiceen_US
dc.subjectFamily & Consumer Sciencesen_US
dc.subjectCognitive biasesen_US
thesis.degree.nameM.S.en_US
thesis.degree.levelmastersen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineFamily & Consumer Sciencesen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.advisorBhappu, Anita D.en_US
dc.contributor.committeememberBhappu, Anita D.en_US
dc.contributor.committeememberHelm, Sabrinaen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberStaten, Michaelen_US
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