A major problem throughout the world, food waste is an issue that must be addressed not only by all actors in the agri-food chain but also without a silo mentality. To examine this problem, this article considers the interfaces between the stages of the agri-food chain, by emphasizing the interconnectivity of the different links in the chain, and focusing on the interface between retail distribution and consumption. We show that food waste is socially produced through the interactions and practices of the different actors within food systems. The study presented in this article results from a collaboration research project with two organizations involved in the food waste debate. The data analyzed are derived from an online survey of 1026 Quebec consumers and from 14 semi-directed interviews with retail distribution merchants in the Montreal area, Canada. By identifying, describing and analyzing the consumption and commercial and logistical management practices that contribute to food waste, our analysis demonstrates the existence of four symbolic processes that generate food waste at the retail–consumption interface: the economization of waste, the construction of edibility, the construction of freshness, and the moralization of waste. We argue that these processes should be considered when designing solutions to food waste.
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