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Food Waste Paradox: Antecedents of Food Disposal in Low-Income Households

Porpino, Gustavo, Juracy Parente, and Brian Wansink (2015), “Food Waste Paradox: Antecedents of Food Disposal in Low Income Households,” International Journal of Consumer Studies, 39:6, 619-629.

11 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2015 Last revised: 29 Apr 2017

Gustavo Porpino

Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation - Embrapa

Juracy Gomes Parente

Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV) - Sao Paulo School of Business Administration

Brian Wansink

Cornell University

Date Written: January 7, 2015

Abstract

This article aims to identify antecedents of food waste among lower-middle class families – a paradox, given the financial constraints this population faces. The importance of this research is evident in escalating environmental pressures for better use of our planet’s scarce resources. Given that most of the world is low-income, any behavioral change in this population is likely to have a considerable impact. Empirical data were collected from 14 lower-middle income Brazilian households, based on observations, in-depth interviews, photographs and a focus group (n=6). Five major categories of food waste antecedents were identified: (1) excessive purchasing, (2) over-preparation, (3) caring for a pet, (4) avoidance of leftovers and (5) inappropriate food conservation. Several subcategories were also found, including impulse buying, lack of planning and preference for large packages. Surprisingly, findings show that strategies used to save money – such as buying groceries in bulk, monthly shopping trips, preference for supermarkets and cooking from scratch – actually end up generating more food waste. This mitigates the savings made during the purchasing phase.

Keywords: Food waste, food consumption, low income, Brazilian market, household food disposal

Suggested Citation

Porpino, Gustavo and Parente, Juracy Gomes and Wansink, Brian, Food Waste Paradox: Antecedents of Food Disposal in Low-Income Households (January 7, 2015). Porpino, Gustavo, Juracy Parente, and Brian Wansink (2015), “Food Waste Paradox: Antecedents of Food Disposal in Low Income Households,” International Journal of Consumer Studies, 39:6, 619-629. . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2563622 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2563622

Gustavo Porpino

Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation - Embrapa ( email )

Brasília
Brazil

Juracy Parente

Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV) - Sao Paulo School of Business Administration ( email )

Sao Paulo
Brazil

Brian Wansink (Contact Author)

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

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