Growers have been given new advice on how best to measure food surplus and waste on their farm to help identify its causes.
The new guidance, developed in collaboration with leading trade bodies and industry organisations, expands the reach of the UK’s Food Waste Reduction Roadmap. It includes two practical ‘how-to’ guides and dedicated tools for in-field measurement.
Wrap designed the new resources to help growers apply the principles of 'Target, Measure, Act' to their operations.
The body’s director Peter Maddox said: “Reducing food surplus and waste is a huge opportunity for the sector. We estimate that around 3.6 million tonnes of food either goes to waste on farm each year or is surplus to requirement. That’s a potential £1.2 billion loss to the sector – equivalent to seven per cent of the total food harvest.
“Measuring food surplus and waste is the first step to tackling the problem, and our guides will show where action is needed on farm – whatever the scale of production or crop type, and whether hand or machine-harvested.
“They are intuitive to use and set out the actions necessary to measure consistently to make comparisons over time, and between growers.”
Earlier crop-specific assessments by Wrap highlighted the potential that widescale measuring provides to help tackle food waste.
The organisation found that around 19 per cent of all lettuces went unharvested in 2015, with 38,000t lost across the sector, worth £7m. This varied significantly between growers, with a range from seven per cent to 47 per cent of production ending up as waste.
Supporting growers to better measure and share their waste data can help identify opportunities and offers huge potential to improve productivity.
The resources were developed following calls from agricultural businesses for practical guidance tailored to the needs of growers and are free to download and use from the Wrap website.
Andy Mitchell, senior technical manager at Worldwide Fruit and chair of the Courtauld 2025 Fresh Produce Working Group, said: “Being a grower-owned business it makes natural sense to be working with our growers to measure field waste.
“We have been doing this for many seasons on many crops, and what was found was a huge variability season to season. This variability and size was not appreciated by us or the growers.
“As food producers, we want as much of this produce to feed people, but food waste is also a big driver of climate change, as well as a key driver of significant loss of commercial potential of the crop.
“These reasons make it critical to tackle this for the long-term sustainability and viability of our crops. Consistent and accurate measurement is the first step and we would encourage other businesses to use this new guidance from Wrap.”
Wrap hopes the Roadmap Grower Guidance will encourage measuring to become a common practice on farms, helping growers to increase productivity and realise financial savings.
In addition, the body said implementation will provide valuable data to improve our understanding of surplus and waste on farm, and help the UK in its commitment to Sustainable Development Goal 12.3.