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Faces of food waste, E 13: Marketing and Food Waste

Marketing is becoming one of the largest fields of interest

With the help of the internet and social media marketing has become a profession of global and increased matter. As marketing campaigns develop and increase people’s acceptance of them as a part of their daily life and reality swells. This becomes clearer looking into the information provided by MIT’s data platform in the United States (Quintano, 2019). The graphs show that there has been a 4.87% increase in 2019 in the number of students choosing to pursue a degree in marketing. This proves the growing importance of advertising for companies and businesses. The goal is to persuade people into buying certain products or to access specific services. However, what do all these have in common with the issue we are aiming to tackle as a part of the Food Circle project?

Is there a connection between the amount of food being wasted and some of the biggest advertising campaigns?

This is the research question, this article seeks to answer.

In 2009 a study demonstrated the statistical evidence proving that people consume more when they are surrounded by advertisements. The authors concluded that 45% more products were consumed due to food marketing ( Jennifer L Harris 1, John A Bargh, Kelly D Brownell, 2009). This shows that there exists a connection between the amount of food consumed and the advertisement.

In the following, common techniques for influencing shopping behaviour and increasing revenues will be examined. The most successful and common advertising methods prove to be visually appealing and attention-evoking content and financial incentives. The aim is to increase people's purchases and provoke overconsumption.

Advertising practices that influence consumers' behaviour

“Consumers tend to think in terms of the best value for money, and this overrides rational thinking, causing them to buy more products in excess” (Griffin et al., 2009). It is common for supermarkets to promote their products with sale deals like “buy 2 for 1”.The thought of saving money and getting a bigger amount than planned because there will be no or little financial loss, often unconsciously influences the consumer (Center for Science in the Public Interest, 2016). The illusion of saving money generated overconsumption. The result is often food waste at home. Being convinced by the financial incentive, overconsumption is often realized too late. While food advertising is a good way to make people aware of the products and services offered, the risk of overconsumption and wastage is preferred and encouraged as a side-effect in today’s marketing strategies. The problem roots in marketing strategies aiming for overconsumption and encouraging such a shopping experience. Keeping this in mind, the consumers and buyers do have certain possibilities to stop the waste at home.

Ways of reducing the risk to be tricked into overbuying

To prevent buying too much and therefore generating waste, planning the shopping and reconsidering before buying can help. That includes preparing a list from home with the aliments you would like to purchase. The more detailed the list is, the less likely overconsumption, and therefore wastage is. Apart from shopping lists, planning meals ahead of time will save a great amount of food as the goods are well-considered and unlikely not to be used. In addition to buyers’ possible ways of stopping waste, the producers and suppliers also need to consider the environmental consequences of their actions. The advertisement campaigns and the motivation need to change to prevent food wastage in households.

To conclude, consumers’ behaviour is often influenced by advertisements. Nevertheless, or because of this, it is the buyer's responsibility to stay rational and considerate when consuming and shopping to avoid food waste. It is the suppliers' and producers' responsibility to avoid such advertisements. The leading marketing strategies need to prioritize sustainability and reducing waste, instead of aiming for overconsumption.


Center for Science in the Public Interest. (2016, 08 24). 8 Ways Supermarkets Make You Buy More. Center for Science in the Public Interest. Retrieved February 27, 2022, from

Griffin, Mary & Sobal, Jeffery & Lyson, & Thomas. (2009). An analysis of a community food waste stream. Agriculture and Human Values. Griffin, Mary & Sobal, Jeffery & Lyson, Thomas.

Jennifer L Harris 1, John A Bargh, Kelly D Brownell. (2009, 07). Priming effects of television food advertising on eating behavior. PubMed. Retrieved February 24, 2022, from

Quintano, A. (2019). General Marketing & Marketing Management. Data USA. Retrieved February 27, 2022, from

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