Trials aim to reduce waste levels for fruit and vegetables

Big names in the fresh produce industry are helping the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) find ways to reduce the 860,000 tonnes of fresh vegetables and salads that are thrown away each year.

WRAP consultant Sophie Easteal, speaking at last month's members' day at East Malling Research (EMR) in Kent, revealed that some of the leading companies in the UK fresh produce industry are taking part in trials that are underway as part of WRAP's food waste prevention strategy.

She explained that the trials were "examining all aspects of the supply chain", which is why EMR has teamed up with Mack Multiples, Sainsbury's, Natural Resources Institute, crop protection supplier Landseer, International Controlled Atmosphere and Onnic International to take part in an ethylene management trial.

The trials aim to find ways to reduce the amount of fresh produce that is spoiled by the ripening process. They will examine the effectiveness of ethylene-removal devices in domestic fridges and measure the amount of ethylene found in pack houses and depots.

Easteal also revealed that another trial involving Amcor Flexibles, Sainsbury's, Albert Bartlett, Campden BRI and Greenvale AP is tackling potato waste because consumers throw away more of them than other vegetables. "Potatoes account for 19.9 per cent of avoidable fruit and vegetable waste," she said.

The potato trial is looking at how consumers are buying and storing potatoes and potential packaging solutions to prevent greening, sprouting and rotting.

Potato waste throughout the supply chain is also being analysed. The results of both trials are due to be published next year.

Meanwhile, data published by WRAP last week revealed that fresh vegetables and salads account for 23 per cent of food and drink waste.

A WRAP representative said: "Carbon emissions are associated with food and drink that could have been consumed being disposed of down the drain. Most of them come from the production, storage and distribution of all that food and drink that could have been eaten."

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