Consumer Behavior Change and Food Waste Apps

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

These apps utilize a combination of technology and behavioral science to educate, motivate, and empower consumers to reduce their food waste. They provide tools for tracking food purchases, managing leftovers, planning meals, and connecting with others to share surplus food.

Impact on climate action

Consumer Behavior Change and Food Waste Apps in Reducing Food Waste empower individuals to make sustainable choices, reducing food waste at home. By raising awareness, providing tips, and facilitating proper food management, these innovations minimize emissions from wasted food, conserve resources, and promote a more sustainable food system, combating climate change.


  • Mobile Applications and User Interfaces: These apps provide userfriendly interfaces that make it easy for consumers to track their food consumption, set goals, and receive personalized tips and reminders.

  • Gamification and Rewards Systems: Many apps incorporate gamification elements, such as points, badges, and challenges, to motivate users and make food waste reduction engaging and fun.

  • Social Networking and Community Building: Some apps connect users with their friends, family, or neighbors to share tips, recipes, and surplus food, creating a sense of community and shared responsibility.

  • Data Analytics and Personalized Feedback: These apps track user behavior and provide personalized insights on their food waste patterns, helping them identify areas for improvement and make more informed decisions.

  • Behavioral Science and Nudges: Apps utilize behavioral science principles, such as nudges and social norms, to encourage positive behavior change and make sustainable choices more appealing.

TRL : 8-9

Prominent Innovation themes

  • AIPowered Recipe Recommendations: Some apps use AI algorithms to analyze user preferences, dietary restrictions, and available ingredients to recommend personalized recipes that minimize waste.

  • Smart Shopping Lists: Apps can generate smart shopping lists based on meal plans and inventory tracking, helping consumers avoid impulse purchases and buy only what they need.

  • Food Waste Tracking and Measurement: Apps with image recognition and weight measurement features allow users to track and quantify their food waste, providing valuable data for personal insights and collective impact assessment.

  • Composting and Recycling Guides: Apps can provide guidance on how to compost or recycle food scraps, promoting sustainable waste management practices.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Personalized Food Management Solutions
  • Gamified Waste Reduction Platforms
  • Community-Based Food Sharing Networks
  • AI-Driven Recipe Optimization Tools
  • Smart Shopping Assistance Apps
  • Image Recognition Waste Tracking
  • Sustainable Consumption Nudges
  • Socially Responsible Food Purchasing
  • Household-Level Food Waste Analytics
  • Neighborly Food Redistribution Platforms
  • Behavior Design for Sustainable Living
  • Data-Driven Food Waste Prevention Strategies
  • Food Waste Composting and Recycling Guides
  • Meal Planning for Waste Reduction
  • Collaborative Food Consumption Initiatives
  • Incentivized Food Waste Reduction Programs
  • Impactful Food Waste Reduction Partnerships

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  1. Too Good To Go:
    • Technology Enhancement: Too Good To Go is an app-based platform that connects users with local restaurants, cafes, bakeries, and grocery stores to rescue surplus food that would otherwise go to waste. The app allows businesses to list their surplus food at discounted prices, and users can purchase “Magic Bags” containing a variety of food items.
    • Uniqueness: Too Good To Go’s uniqueness lies in its focus on combating food waste by leveraging technology to connect businesses with consumers. The app not only helps businesses reduce food waste and associated costs but also allows users to access affordable, high-quality food while contributing to environmental sustainability.
    • End-User Segments: Too Good To Go addresses the needs of both businesses looking to reduce food waste and environmentally conscious consumers seeking affordable and sustainable food options. The app is popular among urban dwellers, students, and individuals interested in reducing their environmental footprint.
  2. OLIO:
    • Technology Enhancement: OLIO is a community-driven app that enables users to share surplus food with their neighbors rather than letting it go to waste. Users can post listings of surplus food items they have at home, and nearby users can request and collect these items for free.
    • Uniqueness: OLIO stands out for its community-centric approach to tackling food waste. Unlike traditional food redistribution models, which often involve centralized collection and distribution points, OLIO empowers individuals to take direct action in their local communities by sharing surplus food with neighbors.
    • End-User Segments: OLIO caters to a diverse range of users, including individuals, families, and businesses, who are interested in reducing food waste and fostering community connections. The app is particularly popular among environmentally conscious consumers, urban dwellers, and community organizations.
  3. Kitche:
    • Technology Enhancement: Kitche is an app designed to help users reduce food waste by managing their food inventory, tracking expiration dates, and providing recipe suggestions based on available ingredients. The app aims to streamline meal planning and shopping while minimizing food waste.
    • Uniqueness: Kitche’s uniqueness lies in its focus on helping users proactively manage their food inventory and reduce waste through smart meal planning and recipe suggestions. By leveraging technology to track expiration dates and suggest recipes based on available ingredients, Kitche empowers users to make more informed decisions about food consumption and minimize unnecessary food purchases.
    • End-User Segments: Kitche caters to individuals and families looking to reduce food waste and simplify meal planning. The app is particularly useful for busy professionals, parents, and anyone seeking to adopt more sustainable eating habits.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  1. Stanford University:
    • Research Focus: Stanford University is at the forefront of research on Consumer Behavior Change and Food Waste Apps, focusing on leveraging behavioral economics, social psychology, and technology to understand and influence consumer decisions related to food purchasing, consumption, and disposal.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves the development of smartphone applications, gamification platforms, and social media interventions to raise awareness about food waste issues, provide personalized feedback on consumption habits, and incentivize behavior change towards reducing food waste at the household level. They also conduct field experiments and randomized controlled trials to evaluate the effectiveness of different intervention strategies and communication channels.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in urban households, college campuses, and community settings, empowering consumers to make more informed choices regarding meal planning, portion control, and leftovers management. By harnessing digital technologies for behavior change, Stanford’s research contributes to mitigating food waste, conserving resources, and promoting sustainable consumption patterns.
  2. University of California, Berkeley:
    • Research Focus: University of California, Berkeley conducts pioneering research on Consumer Behavior Change and Food Waste Apps, leveraging its expertise in environmental psychology, human-computer interaction, and public policy to develop innovative solutions for reducing food waste throughout the food supply chain.
    • Uniqueness: Their research encompasses the design of user-friendly interfaces, persuasive messaging strategies, and feedback mechanisms within food waste reduction apps to nudge consumers towards more sustainable food-related behaviors. They also collaborate with food retailers, restaurants, and policymakers to integrate app-based interventions with existing food recovery initiatives, donation programs, and regulatory frameworks.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work find applications in diverse settings, including households, grocery stores, and food service establishments, facilitating food waste prevention, redistribution, and recycling efforts. By fostering collaboration between stakeholders and leveraging digital platforms for behavior change, UC Berkeley’s research contributes to minimizing food waste, reducing environmental impact, and addressing food insecurity challenges.
  3. University of Oxford:
    • Research Focus: University of Oxford is engaged in innovative research on Consumer Behavior Change and Food Waste Apps, focusing on interdisciplinary approaches that combine insights from psychology, economics, and data science to promote sustainable food consumption habits and reduce waste generation.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves the development of predictive analytics models, recommender systems, and nudging techniques embedded within mobile applications to encourage users to adopt waste-reducing behaviors, such as meal planning, storage optimization, and composting. They also conduct longitudinal studies and surveys to assess the long-term impact of app-based interventions on consumer attitudes and behaviors.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in household settings, educational institutions, and corporate cafeterias, enabling individuals and organizations to track, manage, and minimize food waste throughout the food lifecycle. By harnessing cutting-edge technologies for behavior change, University of Oxford’s research supports the transition towards more sustainable and resource-efficient food systems, aligning with global efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 12.3.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Consumer behavior change and food waste apps are becoming increasingly popular, with millions of downloads worldwide. These apps are generating revenue through various models, including:

  • Subscription fees: Some apps offer premium features or content for a subscription fee.

  • Partnerships with businesses: Apps partner with food companies, retailers, and restaurants to offer promotions, discounts, or other incentives to users.

  • Data analytics and insights: Some apps leverage the data they collect on consumer behavior to provide valuable insights to food companies and other stakeholders.