- In the UK, an estimated 3.3 million tonnes of food is lost and wasted on farms each year. This has a huge environmental impact, with food loss and waste in UK primary production contributing 6 million tonnes of CO2eq.
- In 2020, 46% of food consumed in the UK was imported, so when considering the impact of the UK food system and consumption patterns, it is important to consider the food and feed imported and the impacts these have on their local environments.
- 2.9 million tonnes, or 6.9 billion meals’, worth of edible food is wasted on UK farms each year. Given the current cost-of-living crisis and a growing number of people in the UK facing food insecurity and poverty, this can no longer be ignored.
Anthesis has delivered research to underpin the WWF’s latest food waste report, ‘Hidden Waste: The Scale and Impact of Food Waste in Primary Production’. The report uncovers the scale of edible food going to waste on UK farms and actions that the UK food system can take to support farmers in reducing waste.
Anthesis was commissioned by WWF to deliver the research and methodology for the report, as well as environmental impact modelling and highlighting the policy changes needed to address food waste and loss in the UK. The report builds on research that Anthesis undertook for the WWF and Tesco Partnership in 2021 to deliver the ‘Driven to Waste: Global Food Loss on Farms’ report, which measured the scale and impact of global food waste on farms and at fisheries.
Dr Julian Parfitt, Technical Director at Anthesis commented, “Now, more than ever, is not a good time to be wasting food – with worries over food security, rising costs and the impacts of food systems on the climate. This report sheds new light on the significant scale and impacts of food waste on farms, accounting for 25% of the UK’s food waste and 10% of the agricultural emissions.”
The six key takeaways from the report include:
- The UK Government and businesses need to set binding targets for a 50% reduction in food waste, from farm to fork
- Defra should implement mandatory reporting of food surplus and waste, including from medium to large farm businesses
- Financial institutions should integrate food waste measurement and reporting into sustainable agriculture financial incentives
- Redevelop animal agriculture practices and standards based on their impact on food waste levels and integrate in farm certification schemes
- The UK Government should realign subsidies with the food waste hierarchy and in favour of redistribution
- Implement a policy shift to improve supply chain practices away from those that drive on-farm food waste