EU Science Hub

Food wasters: Profiling consumers’ attitude to waste food in Italy

Scientific literature suggests that in developed countries food is predominantly wasted at the consumption stage of the food supply chain. This study aims to profile consumers’ attitude to waste food in Italy investigating households’ behaviours leading to food waste generation by addressing what is being wasted and why it is wasted. The work is based on a survey performed in Italy on a heterogeneous sample of 3,087 respondents. A cluster analysis was performed to detect consumers' profiles. Results, based on self-reporting, allow to sketch different 'waster' types, providing a picture of food waste related to eating, shopping, and storage behaviours and suggesting a number of differences existing in terms of perceived quantities and causes of generated food waste. Out of seven profiles identified, four are the most representative ones in terms of size: the conscious-fussy type, who wastes because food doesn’t smell or look good; the conscious-forgetful type, who forgets what is in the fridge or on the shelves; the frugal consumer who tends not to consume fruits and vegetables and declares to waste nothing (or almost nothing); and the exaggerated cook, who overbuys and overcooks. Profiling specific waste types can help to better understand if groups with common characteristics exist, what their specific features are and what levers can be employed to stimulate a change in their behaviour.