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Annesha Makhal

PhD Research Student

Title of Research: Suboptimal foods and food waste

Annesha Makhal June 2017Qualifications: B.Com (Hons), University of Calcutta, M.Com (Marketing), University of Calcutta

PhD Start Date: March 2016

Supervisors: Associate Professor Kirsten Robertson, Associate Professor Maree Thyne, & Dr Miranda Mirosa


Research Summary: Food waste has emerged as one of the most pertinent problems in modern society that has far reaching environmental, social, and economic effects. Given the scale of the amount of food being wasted, alongside the co-existence of food scarcity and obesity, it questions the practices around food marketing and consumption. One such practice is the existence of retailer-set food quality standards for fresh fruits and vegetables. These privately-set standards have little to do with the safety and quality, but more to do with the appearance of fresh produce. As a result, large quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables that are perfectly edible, but visually imperfect (in terms of shape, size, and colour), are wasted even before it reaches the consumer. This represents a monumental waste of all natural and manmade resources used to produce the food. Owing to the prevalence of aesthetic food standards, consumers have had limited exposure to visually imperfect or suboptimal foods. My research firstly concerns when and how consumers have been socialised to form these preferences and its effects on consumer perceptions (or misperceptions) of food edibility and safety. Secondly, using socialisations the study aims to develop suitable ‘nudges’ that could help close the gap between optimal and suboptimal perceptions of fresh foods, thereby even making the perceived suboptimal choice, the easy choice.

Research Interests: sustainability, food consumption, food marketing, food waste, consumer behaviour, social marketing