Back in 2013, I wrote this post decrying the lack of good research on the economics of food waste. It wasn't that no research was being done on the issue, only that a lot of the research that had been published at that time is what I'd call food waste accounting, which didn't didn't rely much on the economic way of thinking.
I'm pleased to now see a nice stream of economic research on the subject. I've blogged on several of these papers before, but now many are starting to appear in print at peer reviewed journals. Here'a a hopefully handy list of references.
- "On the Measurement of Food Waste" by Marc Bellemare, Metin Çakir, Hikaru Peterson, Lindsey Novak, and Jeta Rudi, forthcoming the American Journal of Agricultural Economics (This is an important - and likely to be influential - paper that is critical of previous attempts to measure the economic costs of waste and suggests better ways forward).
- "A Note on Modelling Household Food Waste Behavior" by Brenna Ellison and me, published in Applied Economics Letters in 2017 (This is a short note showing what is probably obvious to every economist but perhaps not to others: that the optimal amount of waste isn't zero and it depends on various economic variables like food prices and income).
- "Food waste: The role of date labels, package size, and product category" by Norbert Wilson, Brad Rickard, Rachel Saputob, and Shuay-Tsyr Hob, published in Food Quality and Preference in 2017 (The authors crafted a clever experimental approach to measure waste in a lab setting and looked at how how measured wasted varied with across date labels, among other factors).
- "Social-Optimal Household Food Waste: Taxes and Government Incentives" by Bhagyashree Katare, Dmytro Serebrennikov, Holly Wang, and Michael Wetzstein published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics in 2017 (This paper presents a more developed model than in the Ellison and Lusk paper mentioned above including factors like externalities; they likewise situate food waste in the context of optimal consumer decision making, considering the effects of various policies on the social well-being).
- "Examining Household Food Waste Decisions: A Vignette Approach", a working paper by Brenna Ellison and me (This paper uses vignettes to study how food waste behaviors vary with various economic variables and consumer demographics).
- "Foodservice Composting Crowds out Consumer Food Waste Reduction Behavior in a Dining Experiment", a working paper by Danyi Qi and Brian Roe (This paper also constructs an economic model of food waste behavior and studies how consumers' waste behaviors respond to information about whether waste is composed).
- "Food loss and waste in Sub-Saharan Africa: A critical review", by Megan Sheahana and Chris Barrett published in Food Policy in 2017 (This is a helpful review paper that discusses the economics of food waste in a developing-country context; the focus is much broader than just considering household food waste, which is the focus of many of the above papers).
There are no doubt other papers out there on the subject. Let me know what I've missed.