"Resource maps" will smooth companies more efficiently through retail and wholesale supply chains, the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) hopes.
"This research aims to quantify types and amounts of food and packaging waste throughout the supply chain and find out why they occur," said a WRAP representative.
Carbon impact and economic value would be worked out to pinpoint priority areas for cutting waste. WRAP is drawing up a list of firms to work with, and said it would look at best-practice models to promote across the sector.
Food production and consumption accounted for 18 per cent of UK greenhouse gas emissions, and overall food waste was thought to be around 20 million tonnes, WRAP said. This latest move is an extension of a drive to reduce household food waste. Industry workshops were held in London and Leeds in September.
Ideas included improved storage guidance for consumers, more consistent date labelling, a greater range of pack sizes and packaging changes to increase shelf life.
Food categories making the "most significant" contribution to food waste were fresh fruit and vegetables, along with bakery products, fresh meats and fish.
Food waste minimisation manager Andrew Parry said: "Retailers and manufacturers can help reduce the amount of food thrown away in the UK. This would have environmental benefits, drive cost savings for the industry and customers, and enhance loyalty in very difficult financial times."