• Vecchi, Martina (PI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


Reducing food waste is one of the most effective ways to improve food security and diminish the food system's carbon footprint. Approximately 20% of discarded food is wasted for cosmetic reasons, on account of being too misshapen, missized, or blemished to sell. This project aims to investigate opportunities for imperfect foods to enter the market and reduce food waste. Unlike previous literature, which focuses almost entirely on the consumer side of imperfect foods, we propose to analyze the entire value chain, covering not only consumers but also producers (e.g., growers and farmers), input suppliers, distributors, and retailers.In this proposed project, the main research objective is two-fold: (1) analyzing what drives suppliers to adopt imperfect food production; and (2) investigating what drives consumers to demand more imperfect food. We aim to examine current practices, potential, and perceptions of imperfect foods from the supply side using in-depth interviews and an industry survey with key value chain actors like growers, distributors, produce associations, and grocers. This will allow us to identify broad opportunities and challenges across the entire value chain. We aim to examine consumers' preferences and demand for fresh and processed imperfect produce using a national consumer online experiment and survey. Information on preferences and demand can bring more imperfect foods to market, which could decrease food waste while helping farmers sell their products.The ultimate goal of this project is to inform management practices and policy interventions that simultaneously increase the social acceptance of imperfect produce while aiding its production, in terms of improved efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Results from this project will help policymakers and entities interested in expanding food rescue programs providing a better understanding of what limits and what fosters imperfect food rescue. It will also provide actors in the imperfect food value chain with rigorous, empirical research into the fundamental factors that drive successes and failures in the expansion of sustainable production practices.
Effective start/end date5/1/234/30/26


  • National Institute of Food and Agriculture: $647,421.00


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