New SISC Food Loss Metric
The Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops (SISC) has just finalized a new food loss metric for growers to track and report the amount of food grown to maturity, but not used; in other words: crops that were “ready for harvest” but did not enter the supply chain for human consumption.
The SISC Food Loss metric is now available and will be built into the new SISC Stewardship Calculator by the end of this year.
The purpose of this metric is to understand how much of a product that is grown is not utilized, and why. Understanding this amount of product ‘loss,’ such as product left in the field or culled out along the way, will provide growers and associated buyers with useful data on where and why loss is occurring within the boundaries of a farm operation.
Grower Benefits: Measuring both surplus and loss. Identify adjustment opportunities that can improve operational efficiencies.
Growers can use this tool to simply track and manage or, if they choose, report on farm surplus. As surplus and loss on farm may change year to year, and field to field, this tool can be embedded into existing systems for collecting farm data such as annual yield, acres planted, etc.
Growers also have the option within this metric, to track the causes of loss. Tracking the causes of loss allows growers to use this metric as an effective on-farm management tool for reducing crop loss over time. The baseline measurement generated through this metric can be used by farmers to track current losses on farm, understand the potential for surplus recovery, assist in building an industry average, and track management decisions that could lead to reductions in future losses.
As industry data collected increases, farmers may also be able to benchmark themselves against regional averages allowing them to quantify their opportunity compared to their peer group. This metric attempts to tie the quantified losses to specific reasons – i.e., weather or pest damage, unfulfilled contracts, and market specifications to name a few. Therefore, this metric will provide growers, and buyers with information that can inform future planting and management decisions. Measuring surpluses can help to identify adjustment opportunities to improve operational efficiencies. Identifying why food is not sold provides an opportunity to optimize the use of other resources and inputs, i.e., water, chemicals, labor and fuel. In addition, new secondary market opportunities could be created for less than perfect food. For example, the quality of produce lost may be suitable for a variety of secondary markets such as value-added processing channels or food service channels that do not require such strict cosmetic standards. Having data on the amount still left in the field allows farmers to understand, and act on, the potential for using these secondary channels.