UA Food Study: Shop More, Waste Less

Norton School researchers investigating how consumers make decisions about food consumption and shopping have found that they actually waste food because they bulk-buy too often.

Part of the reason American shoppers are so attracted to wholesale shopping is their belief that bulk-buying not only prevents waste but can save time and money, providing more value for the dollar.

However, results from a qualitative investigation by the University of Arizona of buying habits suggest that the opposite may be true.

Victoria Ligon, who earned her master's degree from the UA Retailing and Consumer Science Program, studied food purchasing and preparation habits of U.S. consumers for her thesis, finding that those in the study tended to buy too much food and waste more of it than they realized. Ligon has begun doctoral studies in the program.

"The problem is that people are not shopping frequently enough, which sounds counterintuitive," Ligon said. "It seems that people in this country are very price sensitive at the grocery store, but tend to overlook the cost of discarded and unused food at home."

With several scholarly papers and reports dating to 2009 indicating that upward of 30 percent of food grown in the U.S. ultimately ends up in landfills, Ligon has set out to find solutions to the food waste problem.

"Much of the discussion we hear about is related to supply," said Anita Bhappu, an associate professor and program chair of the UA Retailing and Consumer Science Program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Bhappu is also Ligon's adviser and collaborator.

 

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