Farmer-led data gathering pilots 2018-2020

19th November 2020

An interim report on work exploring how farmers can be supported to collaborate in measuring food surplus and waste and identifying production efficiencies.

Key points
Supporting small groups of farmers to measure and compare their results helps them identify opportunities to improve performance
Working with the right sectors and providing the right support is important for success

WRAP has previously estimated that there are 3.6 million tonnes of food surplus and waste arising on farm in the UK, making up a significant proportion of the UK’s total food waste arisings and worth £1.2 billion. However, the industry is made up of many small and medium sized businesses which may be less able to initiate work to measure food surplus and waste. To improve performance, it is relevant to consider how farmers and growers can be supported to measure waste.

This project explored how small groups of farmers could be encouraged to collaborate around identifying a consistent methodology for undertaking measurements, to apply that methodology and to analyse and share their results back with the group in order to identify differences in performance and opportunities to improve. The project also investigates how facilitators and resources to help undertake measurements can support farmers. For the first year of the project, measurements were undertaken during the 2019 season.

The project is continuing during 2020 with a second set of pilots. Key observations from the project so far are that:

  • Because food waste measurement is a relatively new subject for farmers, involving producer organisations and other stages of the supply chain provides legitimacy and a natural forum for collaboration.
  • Whilst growers are motivated to think about solutions, prioritising data collection is challenging and support for this is often required.
  • Attrition in participation rates is high as farmers have to deal with changing priorities and new challenges throughout the season. This means that if the group is not large enough to start with, it can be difficult to generate meaningful comparative data and discussion at the end.

The delivery model for the pilots has been adapted for the 2020 season to reflect these key findings and WRAP expects to report on the second year in 2021.