A field of leeks© Tim Scrivener

An entrepreneur is setting up an online marketplace to try and add value to crops which have been rejected by retailers despite being fine for human consumption.

Rupert Lawrie came up with the concept for agribay.com three years ago after walking a field of harvest-ready parsnips and being told they were to be ploughed in as they had exceeded the size stipulated by the supermarket contract.

“Although they were too big for normal use they still have many uses,” noted Mr Lawrie, saying that if a connection could have been quickly made to a new buyer they could have been made into soup or other prepared vegetable products.

This would then have increased the chances of the farmer at the very least recovering his costs of production, as well as benefiting the environment by ensuring the emissions created by growing the crop have not gone to waste.

See also: Livestock trading website adds ‘Paypal for farmers’

He is now seeking potential sellers and buyers to get in touch with him to discuss how a community can be created, and promises that any grower with crops to sell will not pay more than £1 to list their item and buyers are always free.

How much food is wasted on farms?

The Waste Resource and Action Programme (Wrap) says the UK produces a total of 50m tonnes of food per year, worth about £17bn.

A spokesman for Wrap said that more research has been done on food waste after it leaves the farmgate, but if food waste on farm was equivalent to the rest of the supply chain, this could equate to losses on farm of up to 2m tonnes each year. This could be worth up to £800m.

“Quite often supermarkets have unrealistic expectations,” said Mr Lawrie. “It is all about seasonality and taking advantage of an opportunity when it is there.”

Anyone interested in discussing the venture can visit the website or contact him by email at agribay@icloud.com or by calling 07778 506 704.