It is often stated that marketing gets people to buy too much, and consequently, some products are wasted after purchase. In particular, food price promotions like the 2-for-the-price-of-1 or lower prices for larger unit sizes are blamed for contributing to increased food waste in consumer households.

But – is it really so simple? While there are indeed research findings where consumers point at the role of bulk buying as a potential trigger of food waste, other research results show that the most price conscious consumers actually waste less food than others.

The WasteProm project proposes that the relations are more diverse and complicated than often portrayed. Thus, we conduct an in-depth literature review of the state of current research on the subject, and a comprehensive empirical study that combines actual waste sorting from households with a survey of the same households’ psychographic characteristics (e.g., habits and attitudes), as well as actual deal share based on their shopping receipts. In addition, we conduct in-depth follow-up qualitative interviews with a subset of the participating households. Further, experiments explore potential recommendations to retailers in terms of for instance price tactics and communications.  

This research contributes to the sustainable development goal 12 (responsible consumption and production) by exploring ways to reduce food waste in consumer households through working on factors at play in the retailer-consumer interface. It looks at which tactical marketing choices in food pricing are most ethical from a macromarketing perspective and best in line with corporate social responsibility strategy. In addition, it studies how consumers navigate the trade-offs between their different food-related goals and the ethical consequences of their behaviour, and the responsibility they perceive for the issue of food waste.

The WasteProm project started in 2016 and is funded by Aarhus University Research Foundation. It is led by Jessica Aschemann-Witzel and Birger Boutrup Jensen, with the core team further consisting of PhD student George Tsalis and supported by contributions from Susanne Pedersen, Louise Randers, Mathilde Tønning Tønnesen and Paola Sobral Fraga.