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Summary A pproximately 30 percent of the edible food produced in the United States is wasted and a significant portion of this waste occurs at the consumer level. Despite foodâs essential role as a source of nutrients and energy and its emotional and cultural importance, U.S. consumers waste an estimated average of 1 pound of food per person per day at home and in places where they buy and consume food away from home. Many factors contribute to this wasteâconsumers behaviors are shaped not only by individual and interpersonal factors but also by influences within the food system, such as policies, food marketing, and the media. Some food waste is unavoidable, and there is substantial variation in how food waste and its impacts are defined and measured. But there is no doubt that the consequences of food waste are severe: the wasting of food is costly to consumers, depletes natural resources, and degrades the environment. In addition, at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has severely strained the U.S. economy and sharply increased food insecurity, it is predicted that food waste will worsen in the short term because of both supply chain disrup- tions and the closures of food businesses, which affect the way people eat and the types of food they can afford. Many factors influence food waste in the United States. Researchers, nongovernmental organizations, federal agencies, and others have focused on reducing food waste, yet relatively little attention and coordination have focused on supporting the consumer in reducing food waste. To build on what has been learned, the Walmart Foundation and the Foundation for 1
2 NATIONAL STRATEGY TO REDUCE FOOD WASTE Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR)1 provided funding to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to conduct a consensus study of ways to reduce U.S. food waste at the consumer level. To carry out this study, the National Academies convened the Com- mittee on a Systems Approach to Reducing Consumer Food Waste, whose members brought expertise in food waste, psychology and marketing, soci- ology, public health, nutrition, behavioral economics, food systems, urban planning, intervention design, and implementation science. The committee was charged with reviewing pertinent research from the social and behav- ioral sciences; identifying strategies for changing consumer behavior, tak- ing into account interactions and feedbacks within the food system; and developing a strategy for addressing the challenge of reducing food waste at the consumer level from a holistic, systems perspective. The committee explored the reasons food is wasted in the United States, including the characteristics of the complex systems through which food is produced, marketed, and sold, as well as the many other interconnected influences on consumersâ conscious and unconscious choices about pur- chasing, preparing, consuming, storing, and discarding food. Based on its review of evidence about what drives consumer behaviors and the efficacy of interventions designed to alter those behaviors, the committee identified a strategy for reducing food waste at the consumer level, as well as the research needed to support this strategy and future progress. The dramatic effects of COVID-19 on food supply chain operations and consumersâ behaviors may exacerbate many problems associated with food waste, and also present new opportunities; the strategy presented here is broad and adaptable to changing circumstances. FOUNDATION FOR THE STRATEGY The body of research that specifically addresses consumer food waste is limited and emerging, so the committee also considered evidence from the study of consumer behavior and ways to shape it in six related domains (energy saving, recycling, water use conservation, waste prevention, diet change, and weight management). This work draws on diverse disciplines (e.g. food science and nutrition, public health, behavioral economics, mar- keting, sociology, social psychology), and researchers have proposed models and frameworks to explain consumer behavior, some of which have been applied to the study of food waste. The committee identified one of these, the motivation-opportunity-ability (MOA) framework, as especially useful 1 The Walmart Foundation and FFAR made a presentation to the committee at its first meet- ing about the study charge and their perspectives on the need for the study. They had no other discussions with the committee throughout the study process.
SUMMARY 3 for identifying and analyzing individual behavioral drivers while also tak- ing into account the importance of context2 and habit in driving behavior. The MOA framework posits that consumers are most likely to act in a particular way when they not only are motivated to do so but also have the ability and opportunity to act on that motivation. This framework proved useful to the committee in understanding how interactions among multiple driversâincluding not only individual-level factors but also the actions of others, such as retailers, other food providers, and policy makersâaffect how consumers acquire, consume, store, and dispose of food. The frame- work was also useful for integrating current knowledge about drivers with insights from the research on interventions. Drivers of Consumer Behavior Research on specific drivers of food waste at the consumer level is still emerging, but, particularly when considered in light of lessons from research in other domains, it offers some promising insights. Consumer behaviors regarding food acquisition, consumption, storage, and disposal are complex; depend on context; and are driven by multiple individual, sociocultural, and material factors within and outside the food system that interact to produce food waste. Thus, reducing wasted food at the consumer level will require strategies that consider the interactions between consumersâ motivation to change behaviors and their ability and opportunity to change them through both reflective and automatic processes. Although the available evidence base does not yet support prioritization of particular targets for reducing food waste at the consumer level, it does indicate that the 11 categories of drivers listed in Box S-1 show promise as the basis for interventions. Interventions to Alter Consumer Behavior Interventions that address the wasting of food at the consumer level have been studied, but the research on these efforts is still relatively new and focuses primarily on increasing motivation rather than increasing abil- ity or opportunity. Research to date does not yet provide the highest level of support for widespread adoption of specific interventions in multiple con- texts. Nevertheless, the committee found evidence suggesting that that the approaches listed in Table S-1 are promising and merit further investigation. The committee urges caution in extrapolating to generalized statements about these interventions, both because the efficacy and effectiveness of any intervention will depend on it being well designed, tailored to the context, and well implemented, and because of the importance of considering the elements of the MOA framework. 2 Context refers to the circumstances,Â conditions, orÂ objects by which one is surrounded.
4 NATIONAL STRATEGY TO REDUCE FOOD WASTE BOX S-1 Categories of Drivers of Consumer Food Waste Food waste is driven by A. consumersâ knowledge, skills, and tools; B. consumersâ capacity to assess risks associated with food waste; C. consumersâ goals with respect to food and nutrition; D. consumersâ recognition and monitoring of their food waste; E. consumersâ psychological distance from food production and disposal; F. heterogeneity of consumersâ food preferences and diets; G. the convenience or inconvenience of reducing food waste as part of daily activities; H. marketing practices and tactics that shape consumersâ food behaviors; I. psychosocial and identity-related norms related to food consumption and waste; J. factors in the built environment (including in household and retail environ- ments) and the food supply chain; and K. policies and regulations at all levels of government. TABLE S-1â Types of Interventions and Examples with Evidence (Tier 1 Studies) and Suggestive Evidence (Tier 2 Studies) of Efficacy in Reducing Food Wastea,b Intervention Examples Appeals With evidence: â¢ Delivering materials with appeal combined with other messaging intervention types (such as information, feedback) direct to residents â¢ Providing food systems education to students and having them contribute to the design of a poster with an appeal message â¢ Sharing information about harms of food waste â¢ Requesting diners to reduce portions, take less food, or take more trips to the buffet With suggestive evidence: â¢ Using a self-affirmation intervention to increase receptivity to food waste prevention messages â¢ Displaying posters encouraging university diners not to take food they would not eat â¢ Displaying posters triggering negative social emotions associated with wasting â¢ Linking altruistic or virtue messages with waste prevention
SUMMARY 5 TABLE S-1â Continued Intervention Examples Engagement With evidence: â¢ Engaging schoolteachers and students through curriculum and related projects to deepen understanding of and personal commitment to reducing food waste â¢ Engaging food service workers, managers, and patrons to deepen understanding of the magnitude and consequences of food waste and to jointly develop solutions customized to their food service setting Social Comparisons With suggestive evidence: â¢ Using social interactions and shared values to promote waste reduction among multiple partners in community â¢ Reducing the social stigma of requesting a box for restaurant leftovers by having the server offer it â¢ Using public commitments as a way to be accountable â¢ Using public demonstrations of results through such interventions as bin cameras Feedback With suggestive evidence: â¢ Providing personalized feedback about the success of waste reduction efforts as part of a broader set of intervention strategies Financial With evidence: â¢ Paying more as more waste is discarded from the home With suggestive evidence: â¢ Offering price discounts on suboptimal food â¢ Removing discounts for bulk or multiunit purchases Nudges With evidence: â¢ Reducing food quantities in buffet settings through the use of smaller plates, smaller portions, or tray removal â¢ Switching serveware from paper to plastic plates â¢ Increasing consumersâ psychological ownership of food With suggestive evidence: â¢ Increasing foodâs appeal through changes in meal quality and timing â¢ Removing date labels â¢ Setting appropriate refrigerator temperatures continued
6 NATIONAL STRATEGY TO REDUCE FOOD WASTE TABLE S-1â Continued Intervention Examples Information With evidence: â¢ Conducting campaigns that provide booklets, refrigerator magnets, informational emails sent directly to participants in home or school settings, generally used as part of a multifaceted intervention combined with appeal or feedback interventions â¢ The above plus providing food storage containers With suggestive evidence: â¢ Tailoring information to respondent needs â¢ Conducting small, intensive workshops â¢ Asking participants to read a single article about food waste â¢ Publicly sharing information through such means as posters, recipes, in-store cooking demonstrations, and social media as part of a multifaceted campaign â¢ Conducting national campaigns providing information and skills to reduce food waste aTier 1 studies met criteria: an intervention was implemented, wasted food was measured, causal effect can be attributed, and statistical analysis was adequate. Tier 2 studies failed to meet at least one of those criteria. bThe committee urges caution in extrapolating the information in this table to generalized statements about the efficacy and effectiveness of these interventions, which will depend on many other factors. Although the research does not point directly to interventions that can be implemented with confidence across contexts and populations, it does offer important lessons that can be used in the tailoring of interventions to particular needs. For example, consideration of how a particular driver (e.g., psychological distancing) is likely to influence food waste (e.g., by af- fecting motivation) and the cognitive processes it activates (e.g., reflective or automatic processing) offers clues about other drivers that may also be at work in a given context and, therefore, where to focus intervention efforts. It is also essential to integrate plans for implementation and evaluation into the process of designing an intervention. Research from the six related domains offers additional insights that have not yet been assessed in the context of reducing consumer food waste but are likely to be useful to designers of food waste reduction interventions: â¢ Multifaceted interventions that take advantage of more than one mechanism may be more effective than a single intervention alone. â¢ Characteristics of the context in which a behavior is occurring influence, and may override, other drivers.
SUMMARY 7 â¢ It is critical to understand the cognitive processes, which fall on a continuum ranging from reflective to semireflective to automatic, involved in the behaviors an intervention is intended to modify. Identifying and understanding habitual behaviors is also critical to designing any intervention. A STRATEGY FOR REDUCING FOOD WASTE AT THE CONSUMER LEVEL The strategy the committee proposes builds on the efforts of the many stakeholders that are already engaged in efforts to reduce consumer food waste. The strategy identifies three primary pathways to changing consumer behavior and includes recommendations about the responsibilities of the various partners whose participation will be necessary to this coordinated effort to reduce food waste at the consumer level. The three pathways are 1. changing the U.S. food environment to discourage waste by consumers; 2. strengthening consumersâ motivation, opportunity, and ability to reduce food waste; and 3. leveraging and applying research findings and technology to sup- port consumers in food waste reduction. Pathway 1: Change the U.S. Food Environment to Discourage Waste by Consumers Implement change and innovation in the food industry. RECOMMENDATION 1: Food trade associations and their joint al- liances (e.g., the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, the National Restau- rant Association, FMI-The Food Industry Association, the Consumers Brand Association, and smaller food trade associations) and nonprofit organizations should expand their efforts to reduce food waste by convening an ongoing publicâprivateâacademic forum with the goal of coordinating industry efforts. Specifically, this forum should â¢ assist association members in pursuing evidence-based best prac- tices and interventions to reduce food waste at the consumer level, providing regularly updated written guidance and consultation services; â¢ encourage association members to evaluate their food waste re- duction efforts and publish their findings, and provide tools and assistance for these purposes;
8 NATIONAL STRATEGY TO REDUCE FOOD WASTE â¢ develop materials to inform members about the impacts of food waste and to characterize the business case, in terms of costs and benefits, of food waste reduction practices; â¢ support and participate in relevant research; â¢ create communities of practice in which members can share innova- tions and lessons learned; and â¢ work with third-party certifying organizations to include practices that reduce food waste at the consumer level as criteria in their environmental standards, and to encourage members to meet those standards. RECOMMENDATION 2: With guidance from their food trade as- sociations, manufacturers, retailers, and food service venues should â¢ develop promotions and other in-store cues that prioritize ac- quisition of the optimal amount and variety (including frozen, shelf-stable, and perishable) of products rather than prompting overacquisition; and â¢ implement and evaluate evidence-based strategies that help reduce consumer food waste by combining elementsâincluding presenta- tion of food (amount and variety) to reduce overacquisition and communications targeting consumersâthat increase consumersâ motivation, opportunity, and ability to alter wasteful behaviors. Include food waste reduction in industry certification. RECOMMENDATION 3: The International Organization for Stan- dardization, the Green Restaurant Association, the U.S. Green Building Council, and other organizations in charge of developing environmen- tal standards for businesses should include practices that reduce food waste at the consumer level as criteria in those standards, and encour- age food businesses to modify their practices to meet those criteria. Develop and harmonize sensible date labeling. RECOMMENDATION 4: Food industry trade associations, consumer organizations, and other nonprofit organizations should coordinate and advocate for the passage of federal legislation to harmonize the language and standards for use of date labels for packaged food sold in the United States. They should also coordinate efforts to educate the public about the information provided on date labels and how they can use that information to ensure that they neither consume unsafe food nor waste safe food.
SUMMARY 9 Implement state and local policies encouraging behaviors that prevent food waste. RECOMMENDATION 5: State and local governments should institute policies that reduce the discarding of wasted food. Such policies include (but are not limited to) fees for the removal of municipal solid waste per unit of waste and mandatory organic recycling practices, such as composting. These policies should be integrated with related policies (e.g., on recycling, food recovery), such as those to reduce environmen- tal impact or promote equity-related outcomes. RECOMMENDATION 6: The Environmental Protection Agency and nongovernmental entities, such as foundations, should support local jurisdictions and states in developing and instituting policies that dis- courage the discarding of edible food. Actions to this end include pro- viding research, tools, and information and investing in partnerships and forums (e.g., social innovation labs) that bring key stakeholders together to develop feasible interventions that are acceptable to the affected communities. Pathway 2: Strengthen Consumersâ Motivation, Opportunity, and Ability to Reduce Food Waste Conduct a national behavior change campaign. RECOMMENDATION 7: As part of the federal Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Envi- ronmental Protection Agency, and the Food and Drug Administration should lead the development of a centralized platform for a behavior change campaign. This campaign should be designed both to inform the public about the environmental, economic, and social benefits of reducing food waste and tools and strategies for reducing their own waste, and to address nonconscious drivers of food waste, as well as consumersâ ability and opportunity to change wasteful behavior. This platform should be designed to stimulate, guide, and support current efforts at the state and local levels and those led by nongovernmental entities. The platform should incorporate the following elements â¢ provide resources and easy, everyday tips for reducing food waste; â¢ make use of a variety of traditional (e.g., books, website, apps) and new (e.g., short media content bursts, short sound bites, multime- dia, gamification, refrigerator magnets) tools and tactics; â¢ use positive messaging;
10 NATIONAL STRATEGY TO REDUCE FOOD WASTE â¢ provide multiple cues at the food acquisition, consumption, and disposal stages; â¢ focus on reaching consumers during âteachable momentsâ; â¢ use social science research, particularly as related to norms and consumersâ psychological distance from food and food production; â¢ deliver short, intense, and frequent action ideas and nudges; â¢ include components and mechanisms that are culturally relevant to various settings and populations, such as food service employees, retail food establishments, students, workplaces, grocery shoppers, and general consumers; â¢ include provisions for rigorous evaluation of effectiveness and re- ward for behavior change; â¢ urge stakeholders to alter social and economic contexts to provide opportunities for behavior change; and â¢ spur influencers to help alter norms and amplify messages. Spread and amplify messages about food waste through influencers. RECOMMENDATION 8: Professional (e.g., the Culinary Institute of America, the Institute of Food Technologists, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) and community organizations should work with their memberships and with influencers, such as dietitians, state extension specialists, recipe providers, cooking show hosts, chefs, and social media personalities, to promote the use of their platforms to advance consistent food literacy information, provide evidence-based guidance about optimizing the consumption of food and minimizing waste, and help shift social norms by providing information about the positive ef- fects of supporting consumers in reducing waste. Include instruction and experiential learning about food literacy in educa- tion curricula. RECOMMENDATION 9: Nongovernment organizations (e.g., the World Wildlife Fund) should engage with other appropriate entities (e.g., state departments of education, U.S. Department of Agricultureâs Food and Nutrition Service, foundations) in concerted, coordinated ef- forts to provide Kâ12, postsecondary, and secondary institutions with appropriate tools and resources and promote their use in instruction and hands-on learning about the social, environmental, and economic impacts of food waste and ways to reduce it.
SUMMARY 11 Pathway 3: Leverage and Apply Research Findings and Technology to Sup- port Consumers in Food Waste Reduction Support research and technology. RECOMMENDATION 10:3 Government agencies at all levels and relevant foundations concerned with the problem of food waste should support the proposed food waste reduction strategy by investing in â¢ research to develop methods for measuring food waste at the con- sumer level, including the collection of data on food waste, both aggregated and by type of food, and reasons for wasting food in the United States, as part of an overall effort to measure food waste at the national level; â¢ research and pilot studies that are adequately designed to evaluate interventions for reducing consumer-level food waste and both the intended and unintended outcomes of those interventions, and are integrated with implementation plans; â¢ training in intervention evaluation and implementation planning for appropriate staff of community-based organizations and gradu- ate students through, for example, an evaluation institute; and â¢ dissemination of information about the efficacy and effectiveness of interventions, including detailed descriptions of the intervention design and implementation. Coordination and Partnership in Pursuit of the Three Pathways The overarching goal of the committeeâs proposed strategy is to create and sustain a broad societal commitment to reducing food waste. Leader- ship and financial support from the federal level will be necessary to stimu- late and coordinate the efforts of the multiple stakeholders involved and to support the transition from a society in which attitudes and habits facilitate the wasting of food to one in which the consumption and management of food consistently reflect its value and importance. The improved coordina- tion and cross-sectoral discussions fostered by the new initiative could have multiplier effects and advance solutions and innovations rapidly. 3 This text was revised for clarification since the prepublication release: âfood waste reduc- tion initiativeâ has been changed to âproposed food waste reduction strategyâ to refer to the broad, national food waste reduction strategy recommended by the committee, so as not to be confused with the Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative. The Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative is an existing collaboration of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is referenced directly in Recommendation 11.
12 NATIONAL STRATEGY TO REDUCE FOOD WASTE RECOMMENDATION 11: The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Food and Drug Administra- tion should expand the Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative by coordinating with key stakeholders at multiple levels and across societal sectors, including state and local governments, nonprofit orga- nizations, foundations, industry leaders, food producers, and others, in efforts to reduce food waste at the consumer level. The federally sponsored initiative should â¢ be the locus of practical information for the consumer and guid- ance on the evaluation and implementation of interventions to be disseminated by initiative partners; â¢ support the development and management of a public clearing- house for sharing information on current research and evaluation data and on funding opportunities relevant to researchers, funders, policy makers, social marketers, and other stakeholders; â¢ support research-based interventions that take into account con- sumersâ motivation, opportunity, and ability to reduce food waste and apply lessons from behavioral change disciplines; and â¢ work with others in resolving technical challenges, including by developing and publishing standard terminology for research and practice related to food waste. Table S-2 provides an overview of the potential contributions that stakeholders would make to the committeeâs proposed coordinated food waste reduction strategy.
SUMMARY 13 TABLE S-2â Potential Contributions of Partners in the Committeeâs Strategy Partner Example Contributions Federal agencies â¢ Coordinate efforts encompassed by the Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative â¢ Provide resources for collaboration and coordination with a broad group of stakeholders (e.g., state and local governments, corporations, academic institutions, foundations) â¢ Develop evaluation and implementation guidelines â¢ Coordinate and fund a national behavioral change campaign, and provide relevant stakeholders and the public with tools and strategies for reducing food waste â¢ Provide research, adaptable tools, and information to state and local entities â¢ Coordinate and provide support for research and for a clearinghouse for sharing information and resources â¢ Where federal agencies have jurisdiction over institutional procurement, support initiatives aimed at reducing consumer food waste State and local â¢ Coordinate efforts with respect to food waste among agencies government â¢ Provide funding to support food waste reduction efforts â¢ Adapt and disseminate the national behavioral change campaign â¢ Provide the public, businesses, and institutions with resources and easy everyday tips for reducing food waste â¢ Encourage and support changes to the built environment and to food marketing that help reduce food waste â¢ Establish and evaluate policies that encourage reduction of food waste behaviors, such as pay-as-you-throw disposal fees, and integrate them with other relevant policies â¢ Coordinate efforts to provide schools, universities, and other educational institutions with appropriate tools and to promote the inclusion of food literacy and associated practical opportunities in curricula â¢ Where state governments have jurisdiction over schools or institutional procurement, support initiatives aimed at reducing consumer food waste continued
14 NATIONAL STRATEGY TO REDUCE FOOD WASTE TABLE S-2â Continued Partner Example Contributions Manufacturers, â¢ Provide evidence-based food safety and other information to retailers, and help consumers reduce food waste marketers â¢ Use evidence-based guidance to develop and offer promotions that may reduce food waste, including prioritizing acquisition of the optimal amount and variety (including frozen, shelf-stable, and perishable) of foods rather than stimulating overacquisition, with the goal of helping consumers improve their decision making in ways that are likely to reduce food waste â¢ Develop and offer in-store cues that activate unconscious behaviors that prioritize acquisition of the right amount and variety (frozen, shelf-stable, and perishable) of foods rather than large quantities â¢ Work with researchers to evaluate impacts and potential unintended consequences of interventions to reduce consumer food waste Food producers and â¢ Inform consumers about the impacts of food waste, and provide the agriculture sector tips to help them reduce such waste â¢ Reach out to consumers with the goal of reducing their physical and psychological distance from food and food production Restaurants and other â¢ Use evidence-based guidance to design, implement, and tailor food service providers interventions to reduce consumer food wasteâfor example, (e.g., cafeterias at optimize portions and number of options offered; redesign workplaces) menus and food presentation, such as buffets; stop using trays; encourage taking a sample helping and returning for more if desired; provide containers for leftovers; and provide tips for consumers on how to reduce food waste â¢ Work with researchers to evaluate impacts and potential unintended consequences of interventions to reduce consumer food waste Food industry â¢ Engage with the Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative organizations (e.g., to coordinate efforts and use consistent methods, approaches, National Restaurant and terminology, and support evidence-based best practices Association, FMI- for reducing food waste at the consumer level by providing The Food Industry regularly updated written guidance, consultation services, and Association, Food tools to the relevant industries Waste Reduction â¢ Encourage businesses to evaluate their efforts and provide tools, Alliance, Consumers funds, and connections to researchers for this purpose Brand Association) â¢ Develop materials for campaigns aimed at specific sectors to educate the business community about costs and benefits of these activities â¢ Create communities of practice to support sharing of innovations and lessons learned
SUMMARY 15 TABLE S-2â Continued Partner Example Contributions International â¢ Include practices that reduce food waste at the consumer level Organization for as criteria in environmental management systems or other Standardization standards for food businesses and other standards organizations Nongovernmental â¢ Develop/support the development of guidelines, tools, and best organizations practices to reduce food waste at the consumer level â¢ Support and conduct relevant research â¢ Continue to support with guidelines and information innovators, industries, and institutions that provide food through such channels as cafeterias in schools, universities, and workplaces â¢ Engage with the Winning on Food Waste Initiative and others to develop consistent measures, methods, interventions, and terminology Professional â¢ Work with their memberships to promote the use of their associations (e.g., the platforms to advance consistent food literacy information, Culinary Institute including evidence-based guidance to help people optimize the of America, the consumption of food and minimize its discarding, and help Institute of Food shift social norms by providing information about the effects of Technologists, the wasting food Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) Influencers (e.g., â¢ Assist in disseminating guidance about food waste prevention recipe providers, from the Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative, advancing cooking show hosts, consistent food literacy information, including evidence-based chefs, social media guidance to help people optimize the consumption of food and personalities), minimize its discarding extension specialists, â¢ Help shift social norms by providing information about the consumer effects of wasting food organizations, community leaders, and other educators Schools, colleges, and â¢ Implement interventions that can help students and staff reduce universities food waste Innovators (e.g., â¢ Improve existing technologies and create new ones (e.g., features developers of of the built environment, appliances, apps) to help consumers software and apps) with reducing food waste
16 NATIONAL STRATEGY TO REDUCE FOOD WASTE Partner Example Contributions Foundations â¢ Invest in research to advance measurement of food waste at the consumer level and study of the drivers of food waste behavior and mechanisms for changing that behavior â¢ Support food waste reduction programs/resources â¢ Require and provide resources for evaluations in funded projects, and ensure that funded interventions are building on best practices and evidence rather than reinventing approaches Researchers and â¢ Produce research to support future innovations and build the academic institutions knowledge base on drivers of consumer behavior and on best practices for interventions to change that behavior Effective implementation of research-based interventions is an ongoing process that requires evaluation, adaptation to local conditions, and often design modification. The government partners and others who contribute funding for elements of the proposed food waste reduction strategy can ensure that systematic evaluation is built into the effort. RECOMMENDATION 12: Government agencies and others who fund interventions pursued as part of the proposed strategy to reduce food waste at the consumer level, as well as developers of state and local policies and regulations, should require that the effects of an inter- vention, policy, or regulation on reducing food waste and increasing consumer capacity to reduce food waste, as well as on other elements of the food system and issues beyond food waste, be evaluated. The results of this evaluation should be peer-reviewed and made available to researchers and the public. RESEARCH TO SUPPORT INTERVENTIONS AND THEIR IMPLEMENTATION To sustain the strategy proposed by the committee, ongoing work will be needed to address significant gaps in the knowledge base related to two distinct but interconnected areas: (1) understanding drivers of consumer be- havior and best practices for interventions to change that behavior, and (2) understanding how promising interventions can be implemented effectively.
SUMMARY 17 Understanding Drivers of Consumer Behavior and Interventions to Change that Behavior With respect to the drivers of consumer behaviors related to food waste, the committee highlights the need to expand understanding of con- sumers and the context for the distribution of food in the United States. Research targets in this area include â¢ consumer segmentation regarding food waste behaviors and at- titudes so that interventions can be targeted; â¢ assessment of the benefits of reducing food waste for the different sectors of the food industry so those benefits can be communicated to industry leaders and relevant staff; â¢ identification of gaps in food literacy by population groups and settings so communication and education approaches related to food waste can be tailored and designed to be more effective; and â¢ understanding of the rapidly changing food industry, particularly supply chain disruptions induced by the COVID-19 pandemic and how the pandemic is affecting food-related behaviors and other outcomes. It will also be valuable to expand the focus of research beyond the individual consumer. The literature has not yet fully explored drivers of behavior that operate across contexts outside the household, for example, or how behaviors and attitudes related to food waste translate across con- texts such as home, restaurants, and work. The committee also believes that more studies of causal, correlational, and intervening drivers and their interplay are needed. With respect to interventions, the committee noted multiple examples of interventions with promising results that can be further tested across contexts and scales, with rigorous methods, to identify best practices. Fu- ture progress in this research area can be supported by â¢ more long-term follow-up studies; â¢ studies that include appropriate control groups and other design elements that support robust causal inferences and measurement of waste, rather than intentions to reduce waste; â¢ integration of the development of intervention and implementation strategies; â¢ further modeling research, other systems-oriented studies including methods for understanding multifaceted interventions, and qualita- tive studies; and
â¢ expansion of the research base to encompass diverse population groups, particularly low-income communities, and diverse contexts and different scales. Understanding How Promising Interventions Can Be Implemented Effectively Implementation of interventions identified as promising requires careful attention not only to unexpected outcomes but also to such factors as feasi- bility, capacity, fidelity to the intervention design, cost, and appropriateness to the settings in which the intervention will be implemented. Many of the food waste interventions that have been studied have demonstrated efficacy in experimental settings. However, few of these promising interventions have been evaluated systematically for effectiveness in real-world and large- scale applications. Interventions that demonstrate high levels of efficacy and effectiveness are needed to significantly reduce consumer food waste. Trans- lational research is needed to apply frameworks, methods, and existing evidence from implementation research to food waste initiatives. Research that integrates intervention development with implementation research is needed to identify and refine the most promising approaches so they can be put into practice at broad enough scale to have meaningful effects.