Information, a slimmer wallet and a climate-fighter

The ordinary Dane really wants to shop sustainably and reduce their food waste, but they need help in changing good intentions to good actions. New research from Aarhus University has the magic recipe.

The Danes are the model pupil of the class when it comes to food waste. 14,000 ton less food has been wasted in Denmark since 2011, according to a new report from the Danish Ministry of Environment and Food. However, there is still a lot of work to be done. 13.5 percent of the amount of CO2-equivalents an individual emits per year comes from food waste. That’s the scary conclusion from a previous report by Aarhus University.

But how do we get the Danes to reduce their food waste even more? The answer to the question and also an encouragement to industry and policy makers comes from a new report from Aarhus University.

In general, Danish consumers are very aware of food waste, where 85 percent has been made aware of it within the last year, is one conclusion from the new research done by The Department of Management at Aarhus University on Danish consumer’s food waste behaviour.

But how do you change the good intentions to actions?

According to the report the magic recipe comes down to a couple of simple recommendations. One is information, information, and more information:

In order to avoid food waste, it may be useful to improve consumers’ knowledge of which parts of foods are edible. For some people, it may be difficult to break the habits of not using certain parts of foods, but others may just not be aware that certain foods, or parts of foods, are safe to eat,” explains Postdoc Violeta Stancu, one of the researchers behind the study.

Another recommendation is acting on consumers motivational factors when it comes to food waste:

If consumers are motivated to reduce food waste, it may result in less food waste. And our research shows that there are two prominent motivational factors; consumers are motivated to change their behaviour, if they can save money and help improve the environment,” says Violeta, and follows with an encouragement for the retail industry:

It is also important to increase attention to the relationship between impulse buying and food waste, and in retail, impulse buying and food waste might be tackled by avoiding offers that promise larger quantities for less money.”

Marianne Gregersen, Department Manager, Market Analysis, Consumer Economy & Statistics at Danish Agriculture & Food Council, agrees that there is still a lot of work to be done in the food waste department:

Our research shows that Danes think a lot about food waste, but food waste is still a great challenge in Denmark and globally. The CO2-equivalent from food waste in Denmark alone is 2.2 million ton a year.

And here the food sector needs to take responsibility and help the consumers become more sustainable, according to Marianne Gregersen:

56 percent of Danes think about sustainability when they buy food and beverages. And when we ask the consumers about what characterises sustainable consumption, the high score factor is ‘Avoid food waste in the household’, which 62 percent mention. Therefore, it makes sense for companies to put some effort into food waste, as it meets the consumers wish for more sustainable food consumption.

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