Food Waste Reduction Roadmap Grower guidance for measuring in-field food surplus and waste

17th March 2020
Practical guides developed with industry
Help plan and undertake field measurements
Field Record Sheet & Reporting Template to help record measurements
Enable growers to identify opportunities to reduce waste and increase marketed yield

In the UK, over £1billion of farmers’ production goes to waste each year. This has enormous social and environmental impacts, as well as consuming the time, effort and passion of growers. Globally one-third of all food produced is wasted, which is why business leaders and governments around the world are uniting in their efforts under the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 to halve food waste by 2030. 

Why measure?

There are strong business incentives for focussing on food surplus and waste. An analysis of over 1,000 companies found that for every £1 invested in food waste reduction, businesses reported an average £14 return.  Farmers measuring performance often find large variability, with the value of marketed yield ranging from £3,000 to £12,000/ha in one case study of salad potatoes. Measuring performance will also help you understand if you are competitive with your peers.

UK industry has taken a leading role in translating the UN’s ambitious goal into practical action under the Food Waste Reduction Roadmap. In the first year of the Roadmap all the UK’s major retailers and over 150 major food businesses and supporting organisations from all sectors committed to ‘Target, Measure, Act’ on food waste.

Collaboration is key

Successfully delivering a 50% reduction in food waste requires collaborative action across the whole chain.  Customers and supply chain partners have a responsibility for supporting their suppliers, just as farmers and growers have a responsibility for taking action in their own businesses.  In all cases, the first step is to measure food surplus and waste in operations. In addition to tackling this major social and environmental issue, measuring and targeting food waste can help you to:

  • understand the size and causes of waste (experience shows that when measured, waste can often be twice as much as previously estimated);
  • prioritise opportunities to increase marketed yield;
  • collaborate more effectively with your customers; and
  • demonstrate commitment to important environmental and social issues.