New trial and report aim to prevent on-farm food waste

Published: 24 November 2021

An innovative method of Whole Crop Purchasing that can prevent on-farm food waste will be trialled by Open Food Network, following the release of their farm food waste report.

Open Food Network, a Recycling Victoria Innovation Fund recipient, is collaborating with Farmer Incubator and Social Traders, who plan to trial the method of Whole Crop Purchasing in Victoria in order to prevent on-farm food waste.

Their project aims to prevent this waste by addressing any shortfall that a farmer may be experiencing to sell their seasonal gluts, seconds, or to create new, secure markets for current or forward planning crops.

It is a solution previously highlighted in Sustainability Victoria’s Path to Half report, identified as something that can support Victoria to halve food waste by 2030.

To guide their approach, Open Food Network conducted research and released a report, How can we design out on farm food waste. The report deep dives into global best practice approaches to Whole Crop Purchasing.

A summary of the findings include:

  • On-farm food waste stems from many different contexts including produce specifications, climate variability, labour access and market access.
  • Preventing on-farm food waste requires varying solutions pending the type of produce, scale of production and timeframes that both farmer and potential buyer(s).
  • Farmer willingness to participate in whole crop purchasing largely depends on where farmers are at in their farming lifecycle, more so than the type of produce they farm.
  • Small to medium sized farmers can be grouped based on their needs or context of ‘whole crop’ purchasing.
  • Strong governance is needed as part of finding new ways of sharing risk and forward planning to reduce on-farm food waste.

As part of this project’s experimentation, Open Food Network plan to trial different forms of
agreements and governance to develop fit-for-purpose governance mechanisms that can be
replicated.