Sharing data in the ‘monitoring of food loss and waste’ program

By Jacquelijn Ringersma

Jacquelijn is the Coordinator Research Data Management of th...

The reduction of food loss and waste is high on the national agenda. The ministry of LNV finances the Wageningen Food and Biobased Research (WFBR) project on monitoring food waste (BO project). Martijntje Vollebregt is the project leader of this project in which data from the different stakeholders in the food chain plays a major role. Since data on how much food is lost and wasted in for example a supermarket can be sensitive information, safe data sharing was an important issue to get the stakeholders involved in the project. Read this blog to find out how Martijntje managed to organize data sharing in the project.

Setting the scene

The Dutch Monitor on Food Waste monitors the amount of food waste based on publicly available data of waste and animal feed. Since the beginning of the monitoring in 2009, there is hardly any decrease in the amount of food loss and waste (measured in kg/pp.y). In 2018 an initiative “United against food waste” was launched in The Netherlands with the aim to reduce food waste with 50% by 2030. Within this initiative one of the programs monitors progress and impact. The program involves many stakeholders. Think of restaurants, supermarkets, food producers, and food processors. In the project Martijntje and the research team analyze the data on food waste from these different stakeholders.

Selection of data delivering organizations

In order to be able to make sound data analyses the different stakeholders in the food chain need to supply their data on food waste to the project. First a representative selection had to be made. The selection criteria were defined such that for example for the supermarkets 80% of the market is covered. This means that many big supermarket chains are within the selection, but some smaller once were also included. The companies selected were invited to participate they all did so on a voluntary basis.

Safe data sharing

The different companies supply the data requested through a WUR Sharepoint portal, which is organized in such a way that each company has its own private space to deliver data. The data is transferred to a secure WUR project share with a folder structure organized on a ‘need to know’ basis: researchers in the program can only access the data that they need for their analysis, and no other data. Data is not transferred to local laptop drives, nor is data shared by e-mail inside the WUR or with the stakeholders. All data sharing takes place in the organized Sharepoint environment and on the WUR project shares.

WFBR has a data transfer agreement with all stakeholders delivering data in the project. In the agreement with a three year run time, the different aspects of the data ownership, rights and handling are described, including a data transfer protocol.

Martijntje is pleased with the sharing facility in the Sharepoint environment, because it is safe and the stakeholders manage to deliver the data. However, she also indicated that managing the access right settings take a lot of time, and are complicated. It took some time to work out the configurations and it takes a lot of time to maintain them.

Some issues on the data have not yet been addressed: data formats are not standardized within the project, which makes data curation and comparison intensive work. Storage of methods and parameters used is not yet part of the data handling protocol within the project. However, the project of Martijntje is a good example on how data sharing is possible even in a complex stakeholder setting with sensitive data. We hope you found some inspiration.


WUR is serious about data

This blog post is part of the series on Data Sharing @ WUR. You can find the WUR data sharing guidelines here. If you would like us to help you on data sharing within your project please contact us through


By Jacquelijn Ringersma

Jacquelijn is the Coordinator Research Data Management of the Wageningen Competence Centre. She works closely together with the Data Management Support team of the Library, IT and DML services.

Research Data Management (RDM) has had her interest since 2005, when she started working for the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, where RDM was an almost natural part of the academic workflow. From 2011 till 2018 she was the head of the Digital Production Centre of WUR Library. From that time she has contributed to the development of RDM policy and support within WUR.

Jacquelijn is the chair of the Working Group engagement of the National Coordination Point on RDM and a member of the Special Interest Group Agricultural Data of the RDA (Research Data Alliance).

All self respecting research institutes should advocate for FAIR data. Their libraries and IT services should support this to the max.

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