Impact of consumers' understanding of date labelling on food waste behaviour

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This research analyses the impact that the level of understanding of date marking (among other influences) has on the food waste behaviour of consumers in the European Union focusing on a comparison between European Union countries. The data were extracted from the Dataset Flash Eurobarometer 425: Food waste and date marking (European Commission, 2015) and structural equation models to estimate the strength of these influences on behaviour. The results show that socio-demographics (age; education; occupation); behavioural control (perceptions regarding the need for better and clearer information about ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ date labelling on food products; frequency of checking date labels when shopping and preparing meals); and understanding of ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ labels have significant effects on behaviours related to lower food waste (use of senses instead of labels to decide whether to eat or throw away food e.g. non-perishable foods from own kitchen cupboard with no ‘best before’ date indicated on the label which were not bought recently; or food products which must be used within a certain number of days after opening and are past that; and the need for ‘best before’ dates on non-perishable foods, such as rice, pasta, coffee or tea). The stated understanding of date labelling is a key influence in all models and explains a consistent fifth (ceteris paribus) of the variance in behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOperational Research
Early online date17 Oct 2017
Publication statusFirst published - 17 Oct 2017

Bibliographical note



  • Date labelling
  • European consumers
  • Food waste behaviour
  • Structural equation modelling


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