Date labelling and the waste of dairy products by consumers
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The objective of this thesis is to advance our understanding of how consumers use date labels and the implications of date-label use for household dairy product waste. It does this by investigating the effect of psychological, social, and contextual factors on date-label use and willingness to consume dairy products in relation to the expiry date. These effects are tested using structural equation models and survey data gathered from 548 Scottish consumers. The results of this study make two contributions to the literature on date-labelling and food waste. The first contribution is primarily theoretical. By improving our understanding of how consumers use date labels and the implications of date-label use for household dairy product waste, it supports the contention that food waste is best understood, not as a behaviour, but as the outcome of multiple behaviours. It argues that in order to understand why food waste is created, it is important to identify the factors that affect the individual behaviours that lead to it, such as date-label use, and how these behaviours relate to one another. These results also have implications for communications and campaigning around food waste reduction. The second contribution has policy relevance. It provides evidence of the likely limited effect of increasing the number of dairy products labelled with a best-before date rather than a use-by date on food waste. This is an approach recently proposed to reduce household food waste. It finds that better knowledge of the best-before date is associated with a higher willingness to consume products after the best-before date has passed. However, perceived risks about consuming products beyond their best-before date, including not just safety but quality, freshness, and social acceptability, appear to interact with date-label knowledge and dampen its influence. It argues that to be effective, any changes in date-labelling should be accompanied by communication that goes beyond improving date-label knowledge, and addresses the multifaceted nature of related risk perceptions and conceptions of date-label trust.