Trashing Leftovers: What Influences the Decision?

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New AAEA Member research released in AEPP

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Food waste is often portrayed as an inefficiency or a mistake

Is a consumer more likely to throw out homemade food leftovers, over restaurant leftovers? Two AAEA members that published an article in the Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy (AEPP) find that a consumers’ decision to waste food may depend on the contextual factors; How much did the ingredients cost? Was the meal prepared at home? Or was it taken home from a restaurant? And, are there future meal plans lined up for the next day?

Up until now, other researchers have primarily studied knowledge and attitudes towards food waste. This time, Past AAEA President, Jayson Lusk from Purdue University and Brenna Ellison from the University of Illinois, contemplate how a consumer decides to throw out food in their article “Examining Household Food Waste Decisions: A Vignette Approach.”

“Food waste is often portrayed as an inefficiency or a mistake. Our contention, however, is that waste may be a product of consumers’ weighing the costs and benefits of a keep/waste decision.” Ellison went on to say, “there are many different factors that may influence the keep/waste decision. Further, we find that not all consumers approach the keep/waste decision in the same way.”

If you are interested in setting up an interview with Brenna Ellison, please contact Allison Scheetz in the AAEA Business Office.

ABOUT AAEA: Established in 1910, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) is the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists, with 2,500 members in more than 60 countries. Members of the AAEA work in academic or government institutions as well as in industry and not-for-profit organizations, and engage in a variety of research, teaching, and outreach activities in the areas of agriculture, the environment, food, health, and international development. The AAEA publishes two journals, the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, as well as the online magazine Choices. To learn more, visit

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Allison Scheetz
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Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA)
since: 02/2009
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