Waste not

Published Monday, 30th April 2018 in Research news

Ripe strawberries in field
Soft fruit like strawberries go to waste for reasons such as weather and disease

Scottish farmers are being encouraged to work closely with retailers to accurately record food waste and help ensure that more fruit and vegetables make their way along the supply chain.

The recommendation follows newly published research by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), which shows many farmers do not see food waste as a major concern and therefore have difficultly estimating levels of loss.

Food waste is seen as one of the major global challenges to achieving a sustainable future, with the Scottish Government aiming to cut food waste in the country by a third by 2025.

In Scotland, levels of waste are estimated to be between 20-50 per cent for vegetables and 1-15 per cent for soft fruit, with pests and disease, weather, supply and demand and cosmetic specifications – strawberries, for example, must be between 25-45mm in length – among the main reasons for food going to waste.

Following research funded by the Scottish Government, SRUC says an official recording of statistics and agreed definitions of what constitutes food waste would help future initiatives.

Improving relations between farmers and retailers is also “crucial” to reduce on-farm losses of edible produce.

Farmers interviewed as part of the study cited the limited number of processing facilities in Scotland as a contributing factor and, although many expressed an interest in using anaerobic digestion as a way of extracting value from waste, having a consistent supply and the right mix of matter for digestion were seen as barriers.

Luiza Toma of SRUC said: “Addressing farmers’ concerns about food loss causes could provide a positive change to ensure that more food from Scottish fruit and vegetable farms makes its way along the food supply chain as intended – from ‘farm to fork’ – without being wasted.”

Read the research briefing online here.

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