Save near-expired food : Does a message to avoid food waste affect food purchase and household waste prevention behaviors?

Zhang, Yi; Herpen, Erica van; Loo, Ellen J. Van; Pandelaere, Mario; Geuens, Maggie


Food waste, especially at the retail and consumer level, is a critical societal issue. Consumers' reluctance to purchase and consume near-expired food is a major contributor. Retailers have taken actions to promote near-expired food; however, it is unclear how their actions influence both purchase and consumption of near-expired food. This research examines one retail strategy aiming to reduce food waste—a message about food waste avoidance (without discounts). Specifically, four experiments (N = 1196) using various measurements of food waste prevention behaviors and one single-paper meta-analysis reveal that a message about food waste avoidance increases consumers’ willingness to buy near-expired food through increased moral satisfaction. After purchasing near-expired food, consumers engage in more waste prevention behaviors for it than for other food regardless of whether consumers encounter the food-waste-avoidance message. In addition, we find indications that increased moral satisfaction deriving from the food-waste-avoidance message motivates consumers to conduct more household waste prevention behaviors for the purchased near-expired food. Together, these findings suggest that a message about food waste avoidance can be a potentially effective strategy to reduce the waste of near-expired food. This research extends our understanding of the purchase and consumption of near-expired food and supports retail messages about food waste avoidance to sell near-expired food.