Huge food waste occurs in the field

The waste-reduction agency WRAP has conducted its first investigation into food waste on farms, looking at two commercially important crops -- lettuce and strawberries. It found significant waste, and big differences between farms. 

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Based on the research, WRAP estimates that 9% of the mature strawberry crop (10,000 tonnes) was wasted in primary production in the UK in 2015, worth £24m. The principal causes of strawberry waste were pest and disease damage (arising after the crop had matured) or fruit being misshapen or the wrong size (i.e. not meeting customer specifications). An estimated 19% of the lettuce crop was not harvested by growers in 2015 (38,000 tonnes), translating into a loss of £7m.
The research found considerable difference between farms. It concludes that food wastage is relatively significant at the primary production level, and is influenced by a complex set of factors. While there is certainly scope to reduce farm-level waste, the problem will require a combination of different initiatives and collaborative, supply chain approaches.
Read WRAP's report here. 
Reducing on-farm waste is one of the key aims of the call for the extension of the remit and powers of the Groceries Code Adjudicator. See our work on sustainable farming here.
The Sustain alliance campaigns for greener, fairer and healthier food systems for everyone. Find out more about our activities and support us here

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Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.