ACR+ member WRAP published an early research highlighting the significant financial, environmental and efficiency benefits inherent in tackling food waste in primary production.
The first indication of the scale of food waste in primary production has been measured by WRAP for two key crops: strawberries and lettuce. For the two sectors it assessed, WRAP estimates that 30 million pounds ended up as waste in the UK, in 2015. This waste was the result of a complex set of factors relating to forecasting and product specifications, and pest and disease damage, being cited most frequently.
In both sectors WRAP found considerable variation between producers – between 3% and 17% of production ended up as waste for strawberries, and 7% to 47% for lettuce. Whilst there is currently uncertainty around what causes this variation, it demonstrates scope to reduce waste by identifying and sharing best practice, and benchmarking different supply chains.
The details come as WRAP also announces a series of sector-wide projects tackling food waste in primary production that have brought together farmers, growers, producers, hospitality and food service businesses and retailers through the organisation’s Courtauld Commitment 2025. A number of pioneering projects is focusing on priority crops including soft fruit, root vegetables and salad. Each is addressing common issues that arise in production, and piloting innovative models and interventions to overcome these difficulties. The work will move towards developing guidance and best-practice case studies to help others take action, and expand the working practices more widely.