Waitrose has committed to source 100% LEAF Marque-certified commodity crop ingredients in all of its own brand products.
The premium retailer already sources all of its UK fruit and vegetables from LEAF Marque farms, and says its plans to source all commodity crops from LEAF farms will strengthen its control frameworks for ingredients such as wheat and oilseed rape.
"This is an important decision and signals the beginning of a new opportunity to work progressive farmers who share the values of Waitrose and LEAF," said Waitrose technical manager for agronomy Alan Wilson.
"It is part of our Waitrose Way initiative to ensure that we engage and support farms that operate in an environmentally responsible way. This platform has already been a success for our fresh product and we look forward to extending this into commodity crops such as wheat and oilseed rape."
LEAF Marque director Jeremy Boxall said Waitrose's decision provided an excellent market opportunity for farmers.
"It also offers a clear incentive for other wheat and oilseed rape farmers in the UK to consider LEAF Marque certification," said Mr Boxall. "It's becoming increasingly important for food businesses and retailers to ensure and demonstrate that they are sourcing responsibly and sustainably and the LEAF Marque is an ideal way to do this."
The retailer's first focus will be on oilseed rape with a target of all UK oilseed rape production coming from LEAF Marque growers by 2016. A timescale for wheat sourcing is currently being developed.
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