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Abstract

Introduction: Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) defines food security as stable access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food. Food waste is a global and complex problem that affects each of three pillars of sustainable development: environment, economic, and social (FAO, 2013). Food loss is defined as the decrease in quantity or quality of food, whereas food waste is the removal from the food supply chain of food which is fit for consumption, or which has spoiled or expired mainly due to economic behavior, poor stock management, or neglect (FAO, 2014). Food loss occurs upstream of the supply chain, particularly post-harvest losses have drawn attention. On the other hand, food waste is observed more frequently downstream the supply chain, specifically at the retail and consumption stages. The FAO estimates that around one-third of edible parts of the food produced for human consumption in the world get lost or wasted globally, which correspond to about 1.3 billion tons of food per year. Food waste is closely associated with food security as being able to reduce food waste will help feed more people and reduce the pressure on natural resources whilst alleviating the negative impact on environment due to greenhouse gas emissions from food chain operations and loss of biodiversity due to agricultural activities. Especially in developed countries consumers are considered to be one of the main sources of food waste and therefore in the past few years an increasing number of studies has examined food waste and consumer behavior. The food waste cannot be explained by a single behavior, but rather a combination of multiple behaviors that can increase or decrease the likelihood of food being wasted. The aim of this research is to synthesize the existing work on consumers' food waste behavior and to develop a comprehensive conceptual framework and to empirically test this framework with data from a country that is dependent on foreign food imports, leading to growing concerns about food security: Qatar. With an increasing population and the food provision depending on imports that comprise more than 90% of the food consumed in Qatar, food security is a top priority. This paper is a research outcome of the SAFE-Q Project, which aims to contribute to food security efforts in Qatar with a holistic approach to understanding food distribution, food consumption, and food waste.

Research Approach: Our synthesis of previous work explaining the food waste behavior suggests that the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) sets a strong basis for explaining it. The TPB provides a theoretical framework that is commonly used for systematically explaining behavior (Ajzen, 1991). We build a conceptual framework extending the TPB (personal attitudes, subjective norms, perceived behavioral control, intentions, behavior) with six additional constructs identified through our extensive literature review and empirical work in Qatar: motives, financial attitudes, planning routines, social relationships, food surplus, and Ramadan (Aktas et al., 2017). We developed an online questionnaire and collected data from Qatar in English and Arabic. We then used partial least squares structural equation modelling to explain the food waste behavior. Results and Discussion In line with the TPB, we find a negative relationship between perceived behavioral control and intentions, where the perceived behavioral control construct has indicators measuring the “difficulty to control food waste”. The relationship between intentions to reduce waste and the amount of food waste is negative, where we conclude the intentions to reduce waste help reduce the behavior leading to food waste. The positive relationship between personal attitudes and intentions suggest that attitudes towards food waste positively affect the intentions to reduce food waste. We find a strong negative relationship between perceived behavioral control and intentions to reduce waste. When it is difficult to control the food waste, the intentions to reduce it are low. Both food choice motives and financial attitudes positively affect the planning routines. While planning routines help reduce the food surplus, the social relationships construct that reflect hospitality and eating with others result in higher food surplus. A unique finding of our research is that the contextual construct Ramadan is found to be positively associated with food waste behavior. Understanding the contextual variables which affect consumers' food waste behavior could help developing strategies for food waste reduction. The findings reveal the strong impact of changing eating habits during certain periods of the year (Ramadan) and food surplus on food waste behavior. The food surplus as a contributor to food waste is explained by planning routines and social relationships (hospitality, risk averseness towards not having enough, cultural habits around how food is served). Impact and Conclusion Food has a significant role in economic, social, political, and cultural lives. By adopting or avoiding certain behavior patterns regarding food, individuals can contribute significantly to environmental, social, economic, and political sustainability. Therefore, it is important to understand the motivational and structural factors and processes that facilitate or are barriers to reducing food waste behavior. Our research helps increase the awareness around food waste and maybe used as a lever to change consumer behavior towards reducing surplus food at households, which is wasted if not consumed in time. Minimizing the surplus food wasted at the end of the value chain is the most impactful objective since it minimizes the loss of the highest value added after food is grown, harvested, processed, packaged, stored, transported, and distributed.

References

Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50(2), 179‒211.

Aktas, E., Topaloglu, Z., Oledinma, A., Sharif, A., Huda, A. K. S., Sahin, H., and Irani, Z. (2017). Contextual Factors Affecting Food Security: A Behavioural Framework. In: The 22nd Logistics Re- search Network Annual Conference and PhD Workshop. 6–8 September, Southampton, UK.

FAO (2013). Food wastage footprint. Impacts on natural resources. Summary Report. http://www.fao.org/ docrep/018/i3347e/i3347e.pdf. Date accessed: 31 October 2017.

FAO (2014). Definitional Framework of Food Loss. Working Paper. http://www.fao.org/3/a-at144e.pdf. Date accessed: 31 October 2017.

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/content/papers/10.5339/qfarc.2018.EEPD836
2018-03-12
2019-11-14
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