Morrisons' boss Dave Potts is talking up sustainable farming

School of sustainable farming: Morrisons lays down ‘net zero’ marker

Morrisons has made a ‘sustainable farming’ pledge to be the first supermarket to be completely supplied by ‘net zero’ carbon British farms.

The supermarket chain said it will work with its 3,000 farmers and growers to produce “affordable net zero carbon meat, fruit and vegetables” by 2030.

Eggs will reach net zero carbon status potentially as early as 2022, followed by lamb, fruit, vegetables, pork and beef in the years to follow, according to the retailer.

Morrisons is addressing sustainable farming as part of wider plans to become net zero in carbon emissions by 2050, in line with the Paris Agreement. It acknowledged UK agriculture currently accounts for 10% of all UK greenhouse gas emissions.

As part of its integrated supply chain, Morrisons has its own expert livestock and produce teams, works directly with farmers, and takes meat, fruit and vegetables direct from farms to its 20 fruit, vegetable and meat preparation sites.

This month, Morrisons has committed to working with a selection of meat and produce farmers to create net zero carbon farm ‘models’, looking at emissions through the whole lifecycle of farm produce. Once a workable blueprint has been established, the models will then be shared with all Morrisons farmers, so all food can be produced in this net zero carbon way.

The farm models will look to reduce carbon in several ways, including: rearing different animal breeds; using low food-mile feedstuffs; using renewable energy and low emission housing; and, cutting down use of fuel and fertiliser. They will also look to offset carbon emissions via planting grassland and clover, restoring peatland, improving soil health, planting trees, and seeding hedgerows.

As part of the programme, Morrisons will also work with universities, vets, farming and countryside organisations, and carbon experts. Morrisons will partner with the National Farmers Union to pool farmer knowledge, work with Natural England on planting and water use, and use industry experts to measure and evaluate data.

Harper Adams University, which specialises in agriculture and environmental subjects, has also been tapped by Morrisons to set up a School of Sustainable Farming to offer farming training.

David Potts, CEO of Morrisons, remarked: “Climate change is one of the biggest challenges for our generation and growing food is a key contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

“As British farming’s biggest supermarket customer, we’re in a unique position to guide our farms and help lead changes in environmental practices.”

Patrick Holden, CEO of the Sustainable Food Trust, said: “Morrisons has shown real leadership in setting challenging targets for emission reductions and for encouraging their suppliers to produce in more sustainable ways.”

Read more about what the UK supermarkets are doing on Green Retail World

[Image credit: Morrisons]

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