A new study from the Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services suggests consumers who order online groceries may waste more than those who buy in-store.

The study by Veronika Ilyuk, assistant professor of marketing and international business at Hofstra University, says consumers don’t have the same cognitive connection when they don’t pick the food themselves.

“Specifically, in brick-and-mortar grocery settings, consumers put forth more energy and time into their purchases (e.g., hand-selecting and bagging produce) – or at least perceive to do so; in online settings, much of the effort related to product acquisition is transferred to another party – namely, a store’s employees,” Ilyuk said, in an article on Food Navigator USA.

Without that connection, the study says, they’re more likely to feel less remorse when they throw the food away.

According to the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, 25-40% of food grown, processed and transported in the U.S. will never be consumed, and 60 million tons of food waste was generated in the U.S. in 2010.

Consumers have a big role in food waste reduction. According to ReFED, network of business, nonprofit, foundation and government leaders aimed at reducing food waste in the U.S., 43% of the food wasted in the U.S. comes from consumers, compared to 40% at retail, 2% in manufacturing and 16% on-farm. ReFED also says the No. 2 most beneficial food waste reduction programs, after standardized date labeling, comes from consumer education programs.

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