WRAP expands Food Waste Reduction Roadmap to farm waste

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has published new guidance expanding the scope of its Food Waste Reduction Roadmap to provide growers with advice on food surplus and waste on farms.

An image of apples at a farm

WRAP’s Food Waste Reduction Roadmap, first published in September 2018, sets out actions and milestones to support organisations in reducing their food wastage, with over 121 food businesses implementing the initiave’s ‘Target, Measure, Act’ strategy.

Broadening the reach of the Roadmap, WRAP has today (17 March) launched the Food Waste Reduction Roadmap Grower Guidance, including two practical ‘how-to’ guides and dedicated tools for in-field measurement in a bid to further reduce the amount of food waste the UK generates. Recent WRAP data found that total food waste has fallen by seven per cent between 2015 and 2018 to 9.5 million tonnes a year.

Peter Maddox, Director of WRAP, commented: “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 farms 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 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. I am delighted to have had the involvement of so many influential sector bodies in developing these guides.”

The guidance was developed with support from Food Waste Reduction Roadmap businesses and the Courtauld 2025 Fresh Produce Working Group, which convenes stakeholders from across the fresh produce supply chain.

WRAP also consulted food and drink businesses, fresh produce members and farming representative bodies including the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), the British Growers Association (BGA), the Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC), LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) and the National Farmers Union (NFU).

The Roadmap was also informed by the experiences of a number of growers, including dps, G’s Fresh and Worldwide Fruit.

Andy Mitchell, Senior Technical Manager at Worldwide Fruit and Chair of the Courtauld 2025 Fresh Produce Working Group, “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.”

A significant proportion of the UK’s food waste occurs during primary production, with research from WRAP revealing that around 3.6 million tonnes of food surplus and waste is generated on UK farms each year, accounting for 7.2 per cent of production and costing £1.2 billion.

With the Food Waste Reduction Roadmap so far saving around 53,000 tonnes of food across food manufacturers, retailers, and hospitality and food service providers, WRAP hopes that the new grower guidance will reduce food waste in the agriculture sector by supporting growers to better measure and share their waste data, allowing them to identify opportunities and improve productivity.

WRAP has also developed an online Food Surplus Network resource for farmers, providing information and contact details for marketplace and outlets to trade surplus food.

You can view the Food Waste Reduction Roadmap Grower Guidance on the WRAP website.

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