Fighting food waste on farms

Recent research suggests that reducing food waste would be the third most effective solution to fighting climate change. The problem starts at the very start of the supply chain: on the farm.

Percentage of food grown that goes to waste:

%

Growing our own veg and selling straight to customers allows Riverford to make sure as much as possible is eaten and enjoyed.

Why so much waste?

Supermarket trading practices play a big role in forcing British farmers to overproduce and waste food…

Too wonky

In a report by the charity Feedback, the biggest reason farmers identified for food waste was that cosmetic standards weren’t met. Supermarkets reject produce for being the ‘wrong’ shape, size or colour – despite being perfectly good to eat.

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Inflexible contracts

Farmers must fulfil supermarkets’ orders exactly, or risk losing the contract. Because uncontrollable factors like weather and pests may affect final quantities, they have no option but to produce significantly too much and waste any leftover.

6,849

Tonnes worth of food is wasted on British farms every day

Riverford do things differently.

Careful planning

We plan our veg box contents and our crops together, way in advance. Every veg has a home before the seed is even planted – and we can usually accommodate any unexpected gluts.

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Growing for flavour

The varieties we grow are chosen for flavour, not cosmetic perfection. Conventional farmers often select varieties that are high-yielding and uniform to meet supermarket specifications – sacrificing more complex traits like flavour and nutritional value.

Embracing imperfections

Nature doesn’t produce ‘perfect’ veg. Growing for flavour means that our customers often find wonky veg in their boxes, or increased quantities if a crop has come up small – such as two small but tasty heads of broccoli instead of one larger one.
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Fair deals for farmers

What we can’t grow ourselves is sourced from small-scale family farmers. We commit to their crops and prices often more than a year in advance, safeguarding farmers from uncertainty and giving them a guaranteed market for their produce.

Grade-out system

When fruit or veg simply can’t go in the boxes (if it’s too ripe, or partly damaged), we have a system in place to make sure it doesn’t go to waste. This includes donations to local food banks, our staff canteen and farm restaurant, free veg for staff, and food for the Riverford Dairy herd – they particularly like broccoli!

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Saving a carrot here and a turnip there adds up…

In 2017/18, our grade-out system saved

2,485 tonnes

of organic food from going to waste!

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Choose taste, not food waste. Choose Riverford

Spuds like your grandad used to grow, the crunchiest cauliflower and the carrotiest carrots; everything in our veg boxes is grown for flavour, not good looks.

Choose from a wide selection of seasonal boxes – and top up with organic dairy, drinks, store cupboard staples and more. Delivery is free; no need to be home.

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© 2019 Riverford Organic Farmers Ltd