Food Waste: Transition from Excess to Enough


Currently, the food sector caters for consumers' uncertain demand for food anywhere, anytime. This enhances consumer satisfaction, but comes at considerable societal costs of inefficient resource use. The huge amount of food wasted shows the need for a system change in food provisioning. This project aims to develop a roadmap towards a food system with minimal food waste.

We use a systems approach that includes stakeholders at multiple levels in society (micro, meso, macro), to examine effects of design interventions on the food system and determine the conditions (at retailer, consumer and other stakeholders level) under which these interventions have maximum impact (research line 1). We focus on retailing and consumers, because the retail sector currently dominates the food system, and because most food waste occurs in households.

At the demand side, consumers have trouble predicting their consumption levels because of preference changes and unexpected events throughout the week. A mindset shift is needed from "fear of too little" to "concern about too much". We investigate how this can be accomplished and what it entails for the way households manage their food (research line 2).

At the supply side, new retail concepts are needed (research line 3). Based on minimization of food waste, these concepts challenge the idea that food should be available in huge amounts and variety, in big displays in retail stores. We examine consumer response to new concepts and the effects on household food waste.


Project number


Main applicant

Dr. E. van Herpen

Affiliated with

Wageningen University & Research, Maatschappijwetenschappen, Marktkunde en Consumentengedrag (MCB)


02/03/2020 to 02/09/2024