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Consumer Imperfect Information in the Market for Expired and Nearly Expired Foods and Implications for Reducing Food Waste

Alba Collart () and Matthew G. Interis ()
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Matthew G. Interis: Department of Agricultural Economics, Mississippi State University, P.O. Box 5187, Starkville, MS 39762, USA

Sustainability, 2018, vol. 10, issue 11, 1-17

Abstract: A substantial source of food waste occurs when consumers and sellers dispose of expired food despite it being safe to eat. We conduct an incentive-compatible, non-hypothetical laboratory choice experiment in which 150 participants choose between food products of varying perishability level at various dates before or after their best-before dates. In one treatment, participants received information about the interpretation of food date labels. In another they received this information plus additional information on food waste due to date label confusion and its environmental impacts. We find that clarifying the meaning of date labels is insufficient to change preferences for food past its best-before date, but when a link between date labels, food waste, and its environmental impacts is made, participants’ willingness-to-pay for expired food increases, particularly for expired frozen or recently expired semi-perishable products. Our findings have implications for food waste reduction efforts because increasing the value of expired food increases the opportunity cost of wasting expired but consumable food.

Keywords: food waste; food date labels; environmental impacts; choice experiment (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 O13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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