Businesses are being urged to embrace ‘wonky’ fruit and vegetables to help cut farm waste after a report found farms account for 1.2 billion tonnes of food wasted annually.
The Driven to Waste report produced by WWF in partnership with Tesco suggests that each year an estimated 2.5 billion tonnes of food goes uneaten around the world meaning almost half is estimated to occur on farms. This being the case, WWF said it was “imperative that this stage is no longer overlooked in efforts to keep global warming below 1.5°C”.
More food is lost on farms per capita in developed countries, including the UK, than in the developing world. The report says farmers need support in measuring and then reducing food waste, while consumers can make a difference by buying and eating ‘wonky’ fruit and vegetables which are wasted in the greatest volumes on farms.
Supermarkets should buy up whole crops, no matter what they look like, and promote these to customers or use them in different ways so they don’t go to waste.
Governments and food businesses can also support farmers by working with them on the ‘target measure act’ approach whereby they set specific food waste reduction targets, identify and measure the waste and take action to tackle it.
The 2.5 billion tonnes estimated for waste globally is an increase of nearly 1 billion tonnes on previous estimates. The data indicate that of all the food grown worldwide around 40% of it goes uneaten, which is higher than the previously predicted figure of 33%.
The report also shows that total food waste and loss seen throughout the whole food supply chain amounts to 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions, higher than the 8% previously estimated.
“Decisions by business and governments have a significant impact on the levels of food lost or wasted on farms, including in the UK,” said David Edwards, director of food strategy at WWF-UK. “To radically reduce food waste, we need ambitious reductions targets across the whole food supply chain, with businesses who buy the food supporting farmers in making this happen.”