Food Waste Reduction Week!
Published: 8 Mar 2022
According to Waste and Resource Action Programme (WRAP), around 10 million tonnes of food went uneaten between 2013-12016- 60% of which could be avoided.
If you're the farmer growing this food, then the produce that goes to waste before it even reaches the market is bad. Farmers have seen almost no increase in money their crops can fetch on the market in the last decade, doing everything you can to ensure as little of the food you grow as possible is wasted is essential if you want a healthy level of profit. If you're a farmer, it is therefore crucial that you reduce the amount of surplus food on your farm and to help achieve this we have built you a plan to help you along the way.
1. Impact of weather- If there is one thing that all farmers must contend with, it's the weather. From floods to wildfire to drought, the weather not only impacts the way our food is grown but also the way it is harvested. Early frost can affect the length of the harvest season and repeated heavy rain can cause delays on gathering these crops. Using agricultural innovations such as drought tolerant seed varieties or multi-cropping can help manage against the challenges mother nature brings.
2. Harvest- Communication is key, this is especially the case on large farms. You need as little delay as possible when crops are being pulled up, processed and place into storage. The most efficient way to schedule your harvest is by creating a spreadsheet. Everything should be tracked on the shared spreadsheet so it can be referred to at any time. When using harvesting vehicles, especially for big farms, it might be useful to consider the charity 'The Gleaning Network'. This charity will harvest the crops that your machines missed and donates them to your local food banks and charities. If for example the weather or market conditions mean that it would be financially irresponsible to harvest the crops, The Gleaning Network will harvest these fields for you.
3. Storage- Your storage facilities should be cleaned and disinfected prior to being filled this will reduce your chance of contamination and help stop the spread of any existing disease. They must have adequate ventilation and you should also be able to control their temperature and humidity. Making one-off investments in this area can lead to thousans of extra profits each year. You should also keep produce that produce high levels of ethylene separate as storing them together will result in the sensitive crops spoiling. Cleaning your produce before storing is another way to combat the spread of disease. After they are cleaned you will be able to easily identify the ones which are damaged, infected or over mature. Another thing that could potentially cause your crops to spoil is the residual heat from the crops themselves. They are warm when they come out of the ground so the best way to combat this is temporarily placing them in refrigeration or stacking in ventilated pallets in the shade.
The future of food waste problems does not stop with farmers. Consumers and the hospitality trade are both huge sectors as well. The worlds population is expected to increase by over 2 billion people by 2050 according to the UN and its imperative that all parts of the food supply chain are optimised.