A team of scientists are working with farmers and food manufacturers to prevent fruit and veg waste in the UK.
The team will bring together the best academics in their field to look at ways to address avoidable waste, in particular around fruit, vegetables and potatoes, which account for 1.2m tonnes per year of waste. Experts say that fruit and veg accounts for the largest proportion of all food not being eaten in the UK.
Research by scientists from the University of Reading, Cranfield University and others will explore ways to extend the shelf life of produce and to grow crops more resilient to disease.
The teams will form part of something called the Quality and Food Loss Network for Horticulture, which will be funded by the government. The Network hopes to provide a focal point for other academics to come together with solutions to improve crop quality and prevent food loss. Academics involved also hope it will help to support the horticultural crop industry, which is worth £4bn to the UK economy.
Professor Carol Wagstaff from the University of Reading said:
Fruit and veg is a major component in a healthy diet so this new funding is a helpful boost to support research to ensure that more of the food we grow ends up being consumed.
Karen Lewis, Executive Director of Innovation at the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), which is funding the project, said:
Bioscientists in the UK and around the world can play a vital role in meeting the challenge of cutting food waste. Through this new network BBSRC will link science and business to propose and analyse new approaches to tackle this key issue.
The scientists will work closely with businesses to raise awareness about the impact on the environment and the economy from not taking action. It will also advise the government on the ways it can support the prevention of food loss and quality enhancement through policy changes.
Image by University of Reading