Waitrose commits to regeneratively farmed meat by 2035

Waitrose commits to regeneratively farmed meat by 2035

UK retailer Waitrose has said it is committing to supporting its farmers to move to regenerative farming practices to help “boost financial resilience” and combat the effects of climate change.

L-R: James Bailey, Waitrose; Professor Carol Wagstaffe, University of Reading; Charlotte Di Cello, Waitrose; and David Webster, LEAF.

The move comes in response to what Waitrose calls “an industry-wide need to move to more resilient farming methods”, as well as demand from Waitrose customers. Research from Waitrose found that four in 10 Waitrose customers were worried about the impact that modern farming has on nature and wildlife.

At a farm in Hampshire, the Leckford Estate, where Waitrose has been farming regeneratively since 2020, executive director James Bailey announced that the supermarket would work with them to source meat from UK farms which use regenerative practices by 2035.

Speaking to farmers at the Waitrose farm, James Bailey, Waitrose executive director, said: “We want Waitrose customers to know that when they shop with us, they are voting with their purses and wallets for a food system that restores and works in harmony with the natural world, and that supports a financially sustainable future for British farmers.

“We have a duty to help our farmers make the move towards more nature-friendly growing, and we’re committed to playing our part in the revolution that our country’s food system requires.”

Working with LEAF and the University of Reading

Waitrose said it would work with Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF) and the University of Reading to “build on its commitments.”

Together with LEAF, the retailer will roll out its LEAF certification globally to all fresh produce growers by 2026. It will also set up eight satellite farms in the UK on a three-year programme representing a range of farming sectors including beef, dairy, pig and poultry.

Its aim will be to produce best practice guidance that has been tested and shared more widely in supply chains, making it easier for farmers to know what really works, the impact changes could have and what they might cost.

David Webster, chief executive at LEAF said: “The agri-food sector increasingly recognises the urgent need to adopt farm management practices that sustain the natural environment while building resilience.  

“We believe it is only by grounding interventions at farm level, within the context of working farm businesses that we can effectively accelerate change at pace and scale. We are therefore delighted to be supporting our longstanding food retail partner Waitrose on Farming for Nature – a highly innovative and far-sighted project.” 

With the University of Reading, Waitrose will establish a three-year Knowledge Transfer Programme backed by a grant from the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). Waitrose said the partnership would “bridge the gap” between agricultural research and practical farming applications.

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