The Rise of Resourceful Consumption: 78% of Shoppers Are Trying To Reduce Food Bills To Cope With Cost-of-Living Pressures, According to Retail Insight

79% have tried to be more sustainable in their buying habits in the last 12 months; 43% now only buy what they need to keep grocery bills and food waste down; 77% felt retailers could do more to improve sustainability, up +10% year-on-year; 72% felt grocers should focus more on food waste in their sustainability efforts 

Chicago, Aug. 23, 2023 – U.S. consumers are turning their sustainability efforts towards resourceful consumption, reducing food waste to shop sustainably while keeping food bills down, according to the latest data from Retail Insight, the leading provider of store operations execution software.

An estimated $408 billion worth of food is thrown away in the U.S. each year despite increased grocery prices and the rising cost-of-living. Yet, original research of over 1,000 U.S. shoppers by Retail Insight revealed that, despite these pressures, 79% have tried to be more sustainable in their buying habits in the last 12 months.

With the average U.S. household now spending $167 on groceries each week, 78% are trying to reduce food bills in response to the cost-of-living, which is up +13% year-on-year.

While disposable incomes remain squeezed, U.S. consumers’ desire to shop ‘green’ is prompting a shift in sustainability efforts, with shoppers now focusing on minimizing food waste, helping them to protect their wallets as well as the planet. Over two fifths (43%) now ensure they only buy the food they need to reduce waste – up +4% compared to 2022 – while 33% are turning to discounted groceries that are expiring to help retailers send less food to landfill. A further 38% have started meal planning to cut down on overbuying food that could lead to food waste, up +3% year-on-year.

This shift towards green and economical food spending is also changing how consumers want retailers to evolve their sustainability efforts. Over three quarters (77%) said retailers could do more to improve their green credentials, rising +10% year-on-year and increasing to 86% of Millennial and 81% of Gen Z respondents. Meanwhile, two thirds (66%) felt retailers spent too much time championing ‘obvious’ green initiatives, such as recycling, and should do more to focus on reducing food waste.

“Our research shows that despite the ongoing squeeze on household spending, consumers want budget-friendly ways to shop green,” said Paul Boyle, CEO of Retail Insight. “This is prompting more acceptance and demand for marked-down food that cuts costs and reduces waste.

“Retailers will need to act to meet the increased demand for marked-down goods, but will need to ensure that they are maximizing their sell-through. Currently, 90% of retailers use static markdowns to sell-through fresh or ambient products nearing their best, which apply binary discounts at various stages leading up to the end of the product’s shelf life. While this helps drive demand, these discounts aren’t optimized for volume or profit maximization, meaning retailers miss out on uncaptured margin and drives excess waste – a ‘lose, lose’ situation. By adopting dynamic markdown models, retailers ensure they don’t leave margin opportunities on the table.”

Retail Insight’s cloud-based solution uses cognitive technology to put retailers in control of food waste through data-led, actionable insights that support their entire waste journey. As well as enabling dynamic markdowns, Retail Insight addresses expiration management, more efficient donations to charity partners and improved forecasting accuracy to allow retailers to sell more while wasting less.


Media Contact

Abby Nelson

Ketner Group Communications (For Retail Insight)

[email protected]