Do you think that supermarket supply chains should be sustainable?
We have been working for the WWF-Tesco partnership on an exciting project titled ‘Embedding Sustainable Agriculture Principles in Retailer UK Agriculture Supply Chains’.
WWF is seeking to halve the environmental impact of the UK shopping basket and focus on seven of the most impactful environmental issues: climate, deforestation, diets, agriculture, marine, food waste, and packaging. At the Glasgow-based COP26 climate conference, Tesco was among several of the UK’s largest food retailers to sign up to the commitment, known as the WWF Basket Metric, by 2030. A blueprint for action has been published setting out objectives, actions, and indicators for supermarkets to achieve performance against the seven issue areas. By 2023 retailers are required to have everything they need to deliver the basket metric objectives.
We have been working with Tesco to carry out a detailed study to identify key elements of the basket metric that are important to their business and the actions required by them to meet the objectives. The project so far has included a combination of detailed research and interviews with key supply chain participants. A survey invitation was also included in Farmers Weekly and got a good response by farmers identifying interventions currently being used on their farms to improve sustainability. These included small-scale interventions such as cover cropping, planting hedgerows and installing bird boxes to more innovative initiatives to drive profit.
In mid-October 2022, we held a workshop at Tesco Headquarters in Welwyn to seek informed feedback on the initial findings of the study, to ‘stress-test’ and identify any gaps. The event was well attended and included 8 farm-owners; representatives from Tesco and WWF; intermediaries including Muller, Kepak, Branston, Cranswick and Noble; NGOs Norfolk Rivers Trust, Wye and Usk Foundation and Trent Rivers Trust; and Advisors from Defra, Savills, Hutchinsons, Agrii, FWAG and UKRI.
The event’s focus was to investigate barriers to sustainability in the Agriculture supply chain. ‘Quick wins’, i.e. interventions that drive sustainability in the long term but can deliver profit in the short term, were identified from the survey responses, and 3 farmers were then selected to present, as their methods were particularly innovative or showed real potential:
The second half of the day saw the room breaking into discussion groups, led by EA representatives to speak about; Openness to Change, Market Savviness and Finance, and Monitoring and Reporting.
Some of the key themes during the discussion included:
“It was a fantastic event and all of the participants were grateful of the opportunity, it was a really good spread of people and everybody was very engaged and motivated” Guy Reed, Director, Earth Active
“…a really valuable and well executed day” Peter Illman, Agriculture Manager, Tesco
“The group session was informative, the presence of someone to direct the conversation was valuable as it made sure we understood what was being looked for and also ensured some quieter individuals gave some contributions as well” Farmer Attendee
“it was good to meet such a cross section of suppliers and other organisations” Farmer Attendee
We/Earth Active are also continuing to work closely with WWF-UK and Tesco following on from a project we undertook in 2021 where we completed a review and roadmap for a global biodiversity strategy for Tesco to deliver enhanced biodiversity outcomes in the agricultural supply chains.
Watch this space for more detailed findings of the outcomes of the workshop and these exciting projects.