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MIA Birau

PHD Graduate - 2016

Thesis title

Today's Special: No Waste! Food Waste , a Consumer Behavior Approach

Supervisor(s)

Corinne Faure

Areas of expertise

  • Consumer Behavior
  • Food consumption 
  • Social Marketing
  • Green Marketing

Mia obtained her PhD in marketing. She holds a Master’s Degree in Econometrics and an MBA in Paris. Mia joined the PhD program at GEM after completing the courses of the Research Master at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. While a student at GEM, Mia has been involved in several projects on food consumption and food waste. She has also obtained a PhD from Université Savoie Mont-Blanc, Laboratoire IREGE. She is now assistant professor at ESDES, Catholic University of Lyon.

Purpose The purpose of this thesis is to underline the importance of food waste at consumer level, to present evidence of improving two different possible food waste campaigns and to encourage future research on this so far little researched topic in consumer behavior: food waste. Design/methodology/approach The thesis starts with a conceptual chapter that lists different behavioral theories that could be applied in food waste research and continues with several experimental studies. The approach is problem-oriented, starting with the germane issue of food waste and continuing with solutions that could be implemented in increasing efficacy of food waste campaigns. Findings We provide documented evidence regarding the importance of food waste at consumer level and the behavioral theories that could be implemented to shed more light on the topic. When implementing food waste communication campaigns it is important to take into account several factors. In this thesis we show evidence that self-efficacy plays an important role in the perception of food waste communication messages and further on waste behaviors. Further, we show that campaigns encouraging the selling of misshaped produce can have a positive impact on consumers’ perceptions of the produce and further on the attitudes towards food waste. Research limitations/implications This thesis is just an initial starting point in consumer behavior research applied on food waste. One important limitation of the experimental studies presented here is that we do not actually measure food waste. Moreover, the thesis covers only two campaigns used in practice against food waste. Future research should focus more on actual food waste and also should look into different measures of reducing food waste. Practical implications The topic developed in the thesis is of high importance for researchers as well as for policy makers and retailers. Researchers can find several paths on which to develop behavioral research to fight against food waste, policy makers can use the findings in implementing more efficient food waste campaigns and retailers, besides fighting against food waste could also improve their image by adopting food waste campaigns. Social implications (if applicable) The main focus of this research is to increase consumers’ welfare by reducing their environmental footprint and by reducing their inefficient use of resources. By reducing food waste, not only consumers will reduce their inefficient spill of monetary resources, but they will also add to the effort of reducing the negative impact of food waste on the environment. Originality/value So far, little focus has been given to food waste in consumer behavior research. Psychological theories can have an important impact in understanding waste behaviors and in implementing solutions to this important problem.Keywords Food waste, self-efficacy, misshaped produce, social marketing