Food waste in primary production

28th September 2017

A preliminary study on strawberries and lettuces

Key points
These are the first steps to map food waste in primary production and address its root causes
Projects to improve forecasting and maximise crop utilisation are underway
Industry unites to fight food waste from farm to fork

The first indication of the scale of food waste in UK primary production has been measured by WRAP for two key crops: strawberries and lettuces.

The research highlights the benefits of tackling food waste in primary production. For the two sectors assessed, WRAP estimated that £30 million ended up as waste in the UK, in 2015. This resulted from a complex set of factors, with forecasting and product specifications, and pest and disease damage, being cited most frequently.

The report shows a considerable variation in the results between growers. Weather and site specific factors explain some of this, but it also highlights the value in supporting greater uptake of best practice.

Pioneering projects are now underway within Courtauld 2025 in response to this evidence, targetting improvements in business performance and resource efficiency, whilst combatting food waste. These whole supply chain projects involve farmers and growers, fresh produce, hospitality & food service and retail companies. The focus is on priority crops including soft fruit, potatoes, root vegetables and salad.

WRAP plans to build on the evidence for strawberries and lettuces to encompass other sectors. We are working with a broad group of industry representatives from across the UK to identify how this can be best achieved.