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Effective packaging is crucial in reducing food waste, a significant issue in the United States. A new study, funded by the American Institute for Packaging and the Environment (AMERIPEN) and the Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF), was conducted by Michigan State University’s School of Packaging.
Key findings include identifying fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, prepared packaged food, and leftovers as the most commonly wasted household food items. The study reveals that half-eaten packaged foods and spoilage of unpackaged foods are the primary causes of waste, suggesting improved packaging designs are needed. Consumers typically waste food packaged in formats like bags, pouches, or trays with wraps, indicating these may not be effective in preserving food freshness.
Consumers expressed a desire for packaging that maintains food freshness, has clear product dating, and offers protection against damage. However, their understanding of specific packaging technologies that can achieve these goals is limited. Once informed, consumers were willing to pay more for packaging that extends food shelf life.
The research underscores the need for better consumer education on packaging technologies and the development of packaging designs that can effectively reduce food waste. This presents an opportunity for innovation in packaging design and policy-making to address the issue of food waste in households.