P004 Strategies and Unmet Needs to Reduce Household Food Waste Reported by Self-identified Food Conservers


      In the United States, about 30% of edible food produced is wasted, and 20% is wasted at the consumer level. Yet, an estimated 35% of Americans “put a lot of effort” into wasted food reduction, suggesting an opportunity to learn from these food conservers through positive deviance inquiry.


      The purpose of the study was to identify food conservation practices, psychosocial drivers, and unmet waste mitigation needs of self-identified food conservers.

      Study Design, Setting, Participants

      Adult, self-identified food conservers were recruited online and screened for criteria of age and food procurement/preparation responsibility. Eligible participants completed a 90-minute virtual focus group and survey consisting of previously validated questions assessing household food waste amounts, behaviors and attitudes.

      Measurable Outcome/Analysis

      Verbatim focus group transcripts were dual coded and thematically analyzed using a hybrid inductive-deductive approach.


      A total of n = 27 participants completed the questionnaire and one of six focus groups consisting of 3-6 participants each. The majority of the participants were White (48%) or Asian (41%), female (67%), had a college degree (74%), had on average 2.6 members in their residence, and made above the US median household income (56%). Reported strategies to reduce food waste included meal planning, creating and adhering to shopping lists, food inventory management, anti-depth organization of food storage spaces to promote maximum visibility, meal prepping, cooking meals in the home and repurposing leftovers. Participants reported intentions to avoid waste, confidence in their ability to reduce waste, and personal and subjective norms that encourage mitigation efforts. Participants reported needing assistance determining optimal produce storage methods and desired opportunities to learn from other food conservers.


      Self-identified food conservers reported a variety of household food waste mitigation strategies, which could be leveraged to positively influence other households. While these findings suggest relatively high food literacy among self-identified food conservers, addressing their unmet needs may improve waste mitigation.


      USDA; UIUC Division of Nutritional Sciences Vision 20/20


      Supplementary data related to this article can be found at