Suboptimal food

BLE Research Project “Marketing of suboptimal food in organic retail”


Public and political debates about food waste are gaining in importance. The “national strategy for the reduction of food waste” presented in February 2019 by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture reflects the increasing awareness of food waste. As with many other themes, there is a considerable attitude-behaviour gap when it comes to the reduction of food waste: Consumers are aware about the problem of food waste but show a low level of readiness to act correspondingly. Therefore, the aim of the research project is to analyse this gap by identifying existing barriers that prevent consumers from buying suboptimal food in organic quality and to test price and communication measures that increase the marketing of organic suboptimal food. Suboptimal food is defined as products with an abnormal appearance, products with other deviating internal product attributes or products that are close to or past the best-before date but are still unrestricted consumable.

For these purposes, store tests and a customer survey are carried out in organic retail shops. The store tests and the costumer survey are based on a detailed literature review, preliminary qualitative expert interviews and focus group discussions. The results of the store tests and the customer survey will be discussed with practitioners from the organic retail to develop conclusions on how the organic retail can improve the marketing of suboptimal food.


  • Jahnke, B., Kilian, D., Puteri, B. and Zander, K. (2022): Marketing von Suboptimal Food im Öko-Handel. Abschlussbericht zum gleichnamigen Forschungsprojekt im Rahmen des BÖLN. Fachgebiet Agrar- und Lebensmittelmarketing der Universität Kassel, Witzenhausen. Online unter:
  • Puteri, B., Buttlar, B. and Jahnke, B. (2022): Take it or leave it? Investigating the ambivalence and willingness to pay for suboptimal fruits and vegetables among organic consumers in Germany. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems 6: 934954.

  • van Braak, H. (2022): Charakterköpfe. BIOwelt 9/2022, S. 40-43.

  • Weiler, N. (2022): Krumm und gut. Hof direkt 6/2022, S. 20-21.

  • Hartmann, T. and Jahnke, B. (2021): Krumme Karotte sucht Kunden. BioHandel 10/2021, p. 38-39.
  • Hartmann, T., Jahnke, B. and Hamm, U. (2021): Making ugly food beautiful: Consumer barriers to purchase and marketing options for Suboptimal Food at retail level – A systematic review. Food Quality and Preference 90: 104179.
  • van Braak, H. (2021): Keine krummen Dinger. BIOwelt 6/2021, S. 22-27.