Understanding and Evaluating On-Farm Food Loss and Waste in the UK

Dr Emmanuel Sawyer, Cranfield University

Optimising food production is vital for the attainment of sustainable food systems. There is evidence that proactive changes in community behaviour and management practices can translate to reductions in on-farm food loss and waste. Wider adoption of practical changes will inevitably improve the resilience of the UK food system. As we rightfully pursue ambitious environmental goals, it is equally important to have policies that facilitate solutions that impact micro-level processes and minimises on-farm loss and waste.

This published report is the output of an inter-disciplinary, cross-university team of researchers from Cranfield University, University of Reading and University of Leeds in a project funded by the Transforming UK Food Systems Annual Synergy Fund. Part 1 of the report presents the causes of on-farm loss and waste in the UK and the prescribed management/solutions in extant literature. We highlight the urgent need for increased research, synthesis of agronomy and supply chain insights, and improved compliance of on-farm food waste management practices to the UK government’s food waste hierarchy.

Part 2 is a portfolio review of the Transforming UK Food Systems Programme projects, ascertaining the consideration of food loss and waste at various stages of the food supply chain.

Recommendations for extended research and impact are presented. We emphasise the need for greater consideration of food loss and waste for future projects aimed at transforming the UK’s food system as neglecting it could have significant adverse environmental and social sustainability implications.

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