A “ground-breaking” project funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has issued an appeal for fruit and veg growers to help quantify the economic cost to English agriculture of crop losses.

Registered charity the Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap), The Warwick Crop Centre and research consultancy 3Keel, who are delivering the work, specifically want potato, lettuce and strawberry growers to get involved in the study.

The organisations involved in the project say there is currently a lack of good evidence on the scale of on-farm crop losses.

However, causes are known to include many complex factors, often outside growers’ control, such as unexpected changes in consumer demand, detrimental weather and labour shortages.

The aim is to identify opportunities for the food industry to reduce crop losses and create a more sustainable, profitable fruit and vegetable sector.

A sample of growers that researchers will visit will also learn how the cost of crop losses on their farm compare with others in the study.

Jeremy Boxall, commercial manager at farming organisation Leaf which is involved in the project steering group, said tackling food loss and waste had become a major priority for the food industry and was of increasing interest to consumers and policymakers.

“This much-needed research will help improve our understanding of the economic cost of these losses to growers - and identify how we can tackle this complex issue together.

“Leaf would like to encourage growers to participate in the study and play an important role in creating a more sustainable and profitable fresh produce sector,” he said.