Demand For Food Waste

Globally, 30% of food is wasted or lost (FAO, 2011). There is widespread recognition that food waste imposes environmental and social costs on society. Yet, there is a lack of literature that empirically explores what influences people's decisions to throw out food from an economic perspective. This thesis aims to model the demand for food waste econometrically using a panel data approach and looks at the impact of the price of food, wage income and non-wage income on food waste, measured in calories. The UK serves as a case study. There is a lack of UK individual-level data on food waste. The method combines UK nationally representative expenditure (Living Costs and Food) and nutrition (National Diet and Nutrition ) surveys, aggregates individual observations into regional subgroups and constructs a panel from the regional averages for each variable for each year from 2009-2015. For purchased calories, no individual-level observations are available, so regional averages from the UK statistics office are used. We need to exercise caution when drawing individual conclusions from aggregated data. For the results, food waste (measured as calories purchased minus consumed) is fairly responsive to changes in the price of food. The ratio of calories purchased to consumed is less responsive. These results suggest increases in food prices or taxes on food disposal may help mitigate food waste. Non-wage income may increase food waste (calories purchased minus consumed). Wage income is not significant. Lack of individual data (especially calories purchased) limits our ability to analyze food waste.

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Amelia Espey

Agricultural, Food and Environmental Policy Analysis

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