Solutions for Food Waste on Farms - ReFED
Optimize The Harvest
- Build relationships with alternative markets to diversify sales channels and find new markets for crop otherwise left in the field, such as fast growing B2C imperfect product companies and online marketplace platforms.
- Propose new arrangements with buyers that 1) expand product specifications in a minimal but impactful way; 2) establish new contract types such as whole crop purchasing; and 3) lead to better upstream communication of demand, including data tools that could facilitate this.
- Diversify farm labor sources – such as through labor matching apps, gleaning networks, and mechanization – to create alternatives that address labor shortages.
- Engage with existing and emerging technical agricultural tools and collaborative efforts (e.g., harvest data collection platforms, planting schedule coordination, etc.) to better align production with market demand and track harvest and yield patterns over time.
- Implement and expand value-added processing capabilities on or near-farm to process and profit from full harvest.
Enhance Product Distribution
- Implement dynamic distribution models, such as transporting food appropriate distances based on freshness, to maximize shelf life for the end consumer.
- Use technology innovations to improve the flow of information – such as road and traffic conditions, as well as timing of pickup and delivery – to optimize the movement of food.
- Coordinate across the sector to develop shared economies for idle assets, such as cold storage and transportation, to expand accessibility at lower cost and resource impact.
Refine Product Management
- Establish and use aggregation centers that provide adequate storage and preservation options, such as cooling chambers, to address cold chain disruptions.
Maximize Product Utilization
- Employ active and intelligent packaging technologies that extend shelf life and reduce spoilage.
Reshape Consumer Environments
- Explore and promote food product trends that make use of farm surplus and alternative specification items, such as cauliflower rice.
- Communicate the variety of product types (size, shape, and color variety) to consumers through in-person, virtual, and written engagement opportunities.
Strengthen Food Rescue
- Participate in pilots of real and near-time data sharing technology that are informed by the type, quantity, condition, location, etc. of products nearing expiration to address time-sensitive food rescue opportunities.
- Build direct relationships with food recovery organizations and gleaners to have greater options to capture donatable product in the moment it’s available.
- Ensure grower and staff knowledge of liability protections for direct donation.
Recycle Anything Remaining
- Ensure packhouse culls are sent to highest use, exploring alternative markets and upcycled products first, then livestock feed, and finally anaerobic digestion or composting.