A ground-breaking research project to quantify the economic cost to English agriculture of crop losses is launching an appeal for potato, lettuce and strawberry growers to get involved in the study.
There is currently a lack of good evidence on the scale of on-farm crop losses, however the causes are known to include many complex factors, often outside the control of growers – such as unexpected changes to consumer demand, poor weather and labour shortages.
The goal of the work is to identify opportunities for the food industry to reduce crop losses and create a more sustainable, profitable fruit and vegetable sector. As part of the project, a sample of growers visited by researchers will also learn how the cost of crop losses on their farm compare to others in the study. An industry-wide survey will be promoted at the end of the 2015 harvest to enable a much wider cross-section of growers to contribute their experiences.
Farming sector organisations such as LEAF are helping ensure the project meets the needs of industry through their involvement in the project steering group. Jeremy Boxall, LEAF’s Commercial Manager, said: “Tackling food loss and waste has become a major priority for the food industry and is of increasing interest to consumers and policymakers. This much-needed research will help improve our understanding of the economic cost of these losses to growers – and identify how we can tackle this complex issue together. LEAF would like to encourage growers to participate in the study and play an important role in creating a more sustainable and profitable fresh produce sector”.
The work is being delivered jointly by WRAP, The Warwick Crop Centre and research consultancy 3Keel. For more information on how to get involved please contact Rob Lillywhite at The Warwick Crop Centre: Robert.Lillywhite@warwick.ac.uk or 02476 575060.