March 2018

What is Courtauld 2025?

Courtauld 2025 is an ambitious voluntary agreement that brings together organisations across the food system – from producer to consumer – to make food and drink production and consumption more sustainable. Meeting the Courtauld 2025 targets will help the UK achieve UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 by 2030.

At its heart is a ten-year commitment to identify priorities, develop solutions and implement changes at scale – both within signatory organisations and by spreading new best practice across the UK.

By targeting hotspots of resource use, we will cut the waste and greenhouse gas emissions associated with food and drink by at least one-fifth per person in ten years and improve water stewardship, with cumulative savings of around £20 billion. By working collectively we will: 

Our shared ambition is to cut the resource needed to provide food & drink by one-fifth in ten years, increasing value for everyone. The targeted overall outcomes from 2015 to 2025, calculated as a relative reduction per head of population, are:

The Courtauld Commitment 2025 Annual Review 2016-17 includes information on the campaigns, pilot projects, research and other activities from the first year of the agreement.



1 Including UK production, manufacture, distribution, retail, hospitality & food service and households, initially measured post-farm gate. Pre-farm gate measurement approaches to establish a baseline are under development and will be considered for inclusion at a review point in 2018. In the meantime, collaborative project activities will include a focus on pre-farm gate waste.

2 Including production in the UK and overseas, manufacture, distribution, retail, hospitality & food service and households.

Aiming for 100% of signatory businesses monitoring water use and having delivered water reductions in operations under their direct influence.  

4 Aiming for 100% of signatory businesses supporting collective action projects in critical sourcing locations for UK food & drink supply. Over the lifetime of Courtauld Commitment 2025, these projects aim to cover around half of the production area of fresh produce supply from water stressed locations, as well as key water stressed areas for arables and livestock. Each project will aim to deliver reductions in water stress, measured against the most important water stress impacts & metrics in that location (e.g. reduction in consumptive use, improved water quality status, nitrate/phosphate/sediment levels in local watercourses).


Key facts

Food waste is a global issue. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations one third of the global food production is lost or wasted annually.

In the UK, we throw away 7 million tonnes of food and drink from our homes every year, the majority of which could have been eaten.

Wasting this food costs the average household in the UK £470 a year.

Bread, fruit and vegetables are the most commonly thrown away foods.

Food waste - the issue

With the global population set to rise to over 9.5 billion by 2050 there are huge pressures facing the world’s food system. We do not yet know what the future will bring for food, but we do know that business as usual is not an option.

We can all contribute to a better food future by reducing the amount of food we waste. Small changes will make a big difference, and everyone can play their part. Almost 50% of the total amount of food thrown away in the UK comes from our homes.

There are two main reasons why we throw away good food: we buy or make too much or we don't use it in time. Check out our recipes to help you avoid food waste and always eat, cook or freeze food by the use by date.

Businesses have a role to play in reducing food waste too. WRAP research shows that the UK manufacturing and retail sector wastes 1.9 million tonnes of food and drink a year, 1.1 million tonnes is avoidable. Which is why we will be speaking to businesses to find out what they are doing to reduce food waste and what more can be done.


26th September 2016

Wrap CC3

WRAP are launching the third phase of the Courtauld Commitment, CC3, which aims to reduce domestic waste by a further 5% by the end of 2015. ...more

Why Second Generation TTI’s are needed?

Existing first generation TTIs rely on a single polymerisation chemical reaction with a fixed activation energy calculated to coincide with the exponential rapid second stage of microbial growth for the food in question. Although the chemistry can be adjusted to change the activation energy according to food type, the TTI only mimics the second stage of growth and neglects the initial first lag phase when bacterial growth is slow. Under certain conditions, when the lag phase is long, this can cause the TTI to be inaccurate in changing colour too early when the food is still safe to consume.

Since the chemistry of Fresh-Check starts to work at the point of label production, further inaccuracies can arise if the labels are incorrectly stored, and the need to apply labels cold is a feature disliked by retailers.

While these inaccuracies and inconveniences exist, retailers will be reluctant to adopt the technology. If these problems cannot be overcome there is the possibility of establishing a more accurate and realistic shelf-life coding system. Existing food date coding is probably quite conservative, but with accurate and reliable TTIs, existing shelf-life might be extended by several days. This would be a gain worth having from a retailer point-of-view, and could contribute to a reduction in food waste since if food lasts for longer it has a greater chance of being consumed.



 March 2018

Worldwide Food Waste Problem

Worldwide about one-third of all food produced – equivalent to 1.3 billion tonnes – gets lost or wasted in the food production and consumption systems, according to data released by FAO.  Wasting food means wasting money both at the household level and in businesses throughout the supply chain – around US$1 trillion worldwide.

“In a world of seven billion people, set to grow to nine billion by 2050, wasting food makes no sense – economically, environmentally and ethically,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

“Aside from the cost implications, all the land, water, fertilizers and labour needed to grow that food is wasted – not to mention the generation of greenhouse gas emissions produced by food decomposing on landfill and the transport of food that is ultimately thrown away,” he added. “To bring about the vision of a truly sustainable world, we need a transformation in the way we produce and consume our natural resources.”


Half of all US food produce is thrown away, new research suggests

The demand for ‘perfect’ fruit and veg means much is discarded, damaging the climate and leaving people hungry

Discarded food is the biggest single component of US landfill and incinerators, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Photograph: Dan Tuffs/for the Guardian

Discarded food is the biggest single component of US landfill and incinerators, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Americans throw away almost as much food as they eat because of a “cult of perfection”, deepening hunger and poverty, and inflicting a heavy toll on the environment.
Vast quantities of fresh produce grown in the US are left in the field to rot, fed to livestock or hauled directly from the field to landfill, because of unrealistic and unyielding cosmetic standards, according to official data and interviews with dozens of farmers, packers, truckers, researchers, campaigners and government officials.
From the fields and orchards of California to the population centres of the east coast, farmers and others on the food distribution chain say high-value and nutritious food is being sacrificed to retailers’ demand for unattainable perfection.
“It’s all about blemish-free produce,” says Jay Johnson, who ships fresh fruit and vegetables from North Carolina and central Florida. “What happens in our business today is that it is either perfect, or it gets rejected. It is perfect to them, or they turn it down. And then you are stuck.”
Food waste is often described as a “farm-to-fork” problem. Produce is lost in fields, warehouses, packaging, distribution, supermarkets, restaurants and fridges.
By one government tally, about 60m tonnes of produce worth about $160bn (£119bn), is wasted by retailers and consumers every year - one third of all foodstuffs.Edible food dumped by vendors in a New York market
Photograph: LA Times/Getty

Edible food dumped by vendors in a New York market. There is a demand for ‘blemish-free produce’ in the industry.
But that is just a “downstream” measure. In more than two dozen interviews, farmers, packers, wholesalers, truckers, food academics and campaigners described the waste that occurs “upstream”: scarred vegetables regularly abandoned in the field to save the expense and labour involved in harvest. Or left to rot in a warehouse because of minor blemishes that do not necessarily affect freshness or quality.
When added to the retail waste, it takes the amount of food lost close to half of all produce grown, experts say.
“I would say at times there is 25% of the crop that is just thrown away or fed to cattle,” said Wayde Kirschenman, whose family has been growing potatoes and other vegetables near Bakersfield, California, since the 1930s. “Sometimes it can be worse.”Wayde Kirschenman .Photograph: Dan Tuffs/for the Guardian of Wayde Kirschenman .

“Sunburnt” or darker-hued cauliflower was ploughed over in the field. Table grapes that did not conform to a wedge shape were dumped. Entire crates of pre-cut orange wedges were directed to landfill. In June, Kirschenman wound up feeding a significant share of his watermelon crop to cows.
Researchers acknowledge there is as yet no clear accounting of food loss in the US, although thinktanks such as the World Resources Institute are working towards a more accurate reckoning.
Imperfect Produce, a subscription delivery service for “ugly” food in the San Francisco Bay area, estimates that about one-fifth of all fruit and vegetables are consigned to the dump because they do not conform to the industry standard of perfection.
But farmers, including Kirschenman, put the rejection rate far higher, depending on cosmetic slights to the produce because of growing conditions and weather.
That lost food is seen increasingly as a drag on household incomes – about $1,600 a year for a family of four – and a direct challenge to global efforts to fight hunger, poverty and climate change.
Globally, about one-third of food is wasted: 1.6bn tonnes of produce a year, with a value of about $1tn. If this wasted food were stacked in 20-cubic metre skips, it would fill 80m of them, enough to reach all the way to the moon, and encircle it once. Taking action to tackle this is not impossible, as countries like Denmark have shown.

The Obama administration and the UN have pledged to halve avoidable food waste by 2030. Food producers, retail chains and campaign groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council have also vowed to reduce food loss in the ReFED initiative.
Food experts say there is growing awareness that governments cannot effectively fight hunger, or climate change, without reducing food waste. Food waste accounts for about 8% of global climate pollution, more than India or Russia.
“There are a lot of people who are hungry and malnourished, including in the US. My guess is probably 5-10% of the population are still hungry – they still do not have enough to eat,” said Shenggen Fan, the director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington. “That is why food waste, food loss matters a great deal. People are still hungry.”
That is not counting the waste of water, land and other resources, or the toll on the climate of producing food that ends up in landfill.
Within the US, discarded food is the biggest single component of landfill and incinerators, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Food dumps are a rising source of methane, a far more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. But experts readily acknowledge that they are only beginning to come to grips with the scale of the problem.A farm worker harvests lettuce in a field near Calexico, CaliforniaA farm worker harvests lettuce in a field near Calexico, California. The US has set a target of halving avoidable food waste. Photograph: AFP/Getty

The May harvest season in Florida found Johnson with 11,000kg (24,250lbs) of freshly harvested spaghetti squash in his cool box – perfect except for brown scoring on the rind from high winds during a spring storm.
“I’ve been offering it for six cents a pound for a week and nobody has pulled the trigger,” he said. And he was “expecting an additional 250,000lbs of squash,” similarly marked, in his warehouse a fortnight later.
“There is a lot of hunger and starvation in the United States, so how come I haven’t been able to find a home for this six-cents-a-pound food yet?” Johnson asked.
Such frustrations occur regularly along the entirety of the US food production chain – and producers and distributors maintain that the standards are always shifting. Bountiful harvests bring more exacting standards of perfection. Times of shortage may prove more forgiving.
Retail giants argue that they are operating in consumers’ best interests, according to food experts. “A lot of the waste is happening further up the food chain and often on behalf of consumers, based on the perception of what those consumers want,” said Roni Neff, the director of the food system environmental sustainability and public health programme at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future in Baltimore.
“Fruit and vegetables are often culled out because they think nobody would buy them,” she said.Green Bell peppers discarded and left to decay in the sun. These peppers are rejected as seen as not fit for market due to odd shape or blemishes.Green Bell peppers discarded and left to decay in the sun. These peppers are rejected as seen as not fit for market due to odd shape or blemishes. Photograph: Dan Tuffs/for the Guardian

But Roger Gordon, who founded the Food Cowboy startup to rescue and re-route rejected produce, believes that the waste is built into the economics of food production. Fresh produce accounts for 15% of supermarket profits, he argued.
“If you and I reduced fresh produce waste by 50% like [the US agriculture secretary] Vilsack wants us to do, then supermarkets would go from [a] 1.5% profit margin to 0.7%,” he said. “And if we were to lose 50% of consumer waste, then we would lose about $250bn in economic activity that would go away.”
Some supermarket chains and industry groups in the US are pioneering ugly produce sections and actively campaigning to reduce such losses. But a number of producers and distributors claimed that some retailing giants were still using their power to reject produce on the basis of some ideal of perfection, and sometimes because of market conditions.
The farmers and truckers interviewed said they had seen their produce rejected on flimsy grounds, but decided against challenging the ruling with the US department of agriculture’s dispute mechanism for fear of being boycotted by powerful supermarket giants. They also asked that their names not be used.Compost collection at Union Square Greenmarket in New YorkCompost collection at Union Square Greenmarket in New York. Photograph: Alamy

“I can tell you for a fact that I have delivered products to supermarkets that was [sic] absolutely gorgeous and because their sales were slow, the last two days they didn’t take my product and they sent it back to me,” said the owner of a mid-size east coast trucking company.

“They will dig through 50 cases to find one bad head of lettuce and say: ‘I am not taking your lettuce when that lettuce would pass a USDA inspection.’ But as the farmer told you, there is nothing you can do, because if you use the Paca [Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act of 1930] on them, they are never going to buy from you again. Are you going to jeopardise $5m in sales over an $8,000 load?”
He said he experienced such rejections, known in the industry as kickbacks, “a couple of times a month,” which he considered on the low side for the industry. But he said he was usually able to sell the produce to another buyer.Squash left to rot in a field in FloridaSquash left to rot in a field in Florida. Globally, about one-third of food is wasted: a total of 1.6bn tonnes a year. Photograph: Alamy

The power of the retail chains creates fear along the supply chain, from the family farmer to the major producer.
“These big growers do not want to piss off retailers. They don’t enforce Paca on Safeway, Walmart or Costco,” said Ron Clark, who spent more than 20 years working with farmers and food banks before co-founding Imperfect Produce.
“They are just not going to call because that will be the last order they will ever sell to them. That’s their fear. They are really in a pickle.”

What is a TTI?


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