Food waste on farms costs supply chain £30M

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

The food supply chain could become more efficient by reducing waste at farms, claimed WRAP
The food supply chain could become more efficient by reducing waste at farms, claimed WRAP

Related tags Food waste Food supply chain Supply chain management

The UK food supply chain become could become more efficient and competitive and save the industry £30M a year by tackling food waste on farms, according to a new report from waste organisation the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).

Work is currently underway by the organisation – in partnership with retailers, farmers and growers – to map food waste in primary production and address its root causes.

David Moon, head of sustainable food at WRAPsaid: “We’re using our experience in mapping waste and bringing together key stakeholders to pinpoint where, why and how much waste arises on farm.

“This work will help the UK food supply chain become more efficient and competitive, which is crucial in the coming years. It is also critical that we have the support of retailers and producers collaborating on projects to develop and share best practice.”

£30M ended up as food waste

A study of strawberry and lettuce crops in the UK found that more than £30M ended up as food waste in 2015 – £24M of strawberries and £7M worth of lettuces. This could have been prevented by identifying and sharing best practice and benchmarking different supply chains, claimed WRAP.

Addressing food waste in primary production required a combination of different interventions  – depending on the sector – and a collaborative approach across the supply chain said the government-funded organisation.

This would involve better supply and demand management in lettuce value chains and – for strawberries – greater flexibility to enhance supply chain management and consideration of new varieties.

NFU director of policy Andrew Clark added: “The whole industry needs to pull together to identify solutions right across the supply chain and do their bit to keep waste to a minimum.”

‘Industry needs to pull together’

The report comes as WRAP announced a series of sector-wide projects tackling food waste in primary production that have brought together producers, farmers, growers, hospitality and food service businesses and retailers through the organisation’s Courtauld Commitment 2025.

Companies signed up to commitment have pledged to reduce food and drink waste in the UK by 20%, a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas intensity from food and drink consumed and a reduction in impact associated with water use in the supply chain.

Signatories include: biscuit manufacturer Burton’s Biscuit Company; dairy processor Dairy Crest; and vegetarian food producer Quorn.

Meanwhile, 2 Sisters Food Group, Bakkavor and Moy Park​ have pledged to halve their food waste by 2030, in partnership with Tesco, the UK’s largest supermarket.

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