From Oldie to Goldie: Humanizing Old Produce Enhances Its Appeal

Minkyung Koo, Hyewon Oh, Vanessa M. Patrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Worldwide food waste amounts to approximately 1.3 billion tons every year. The desire for perfection (fresh and unblemished) in produce has been identified as one of the key reasons underlying this immense waste. This article identifies the need to shape consumer’s aesthetic preference for perfect produce to increase the acceptance of old and imperfect produce. We suggest that when old produce is humanized, it is evaluated more favorably, since it leads consumers to evaluate the old produce with a more compassionate lens. Four experiments show that (1) humanizing old produce enhances evaluation and purchase intent, and (2) consumer lay beliefs about human aging (an “old is gold” vs. a “young is good” lay theory) can influence the effectiveness of humanizing old produce to enhance its appeal. The current work of fers practical managerial implications for retailers and marketers about the transformative potential of aesthetics in helping reduce food waste.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-351
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of the Association for Consumer Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


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