Waitrose to support its farmers to transition to regen systems

Waitrose has unveiled ambitious plans to support more than 2,000 of its British farmer-suppliers to move to regenerative farming practices.

The retailer has been trialling regen and nature-friendly farming practices at its Leckford Estate in Stockbridge, Hampshire, since 2020.

Speaking to farmers at the farm, Waitrose executive director James Bailey said it will work with all its British farmer-suppliers to support them to produce meat, milk, eggs, fruit and vegetables from UK farms that use regenerative practices by 2035.

See also: Leckford Estate to start regenerative farming trials for Waitrose

This builds on the retailer’s previous commitment to reach net zero across all its UK farms by 2035, and the entire supply chain by 2050.

“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,” said Mr Bailey.

Waitrose says its Farming for Nature project commits to support more than 2,000 of its British farmers to move to nature-friendly farming practices, helping to boost financial resilience of farms in the long term and combat the effects of climate change. 

The retailer says this comes in response to an industry-wide need to move to more resilient farming methods and demand from Waitrose customers; four in 10 are worried about the impact that modern farming has on nature and wildlife. 

Regenerative farming practices focus on improving soil health by reducing or removing cultivation, growing cover crops and using fewer agchems.

Transition support

Waitrose, part of the John Lewis Partnership, will develop plans for its British farmer-suppliers to access affordable finance and provide resources to support their transition to regenerative and low carbon farming.

A permanent Centre of Excellence will be set up at Leckford, providing practical tools, workshops, online resources and mentoring to help farmers to make the shift to regenerative agriculture. 

Key parts of the plan include collaborations with Linking Environment And Farming (Leaf) and the University of Reading. 

Waitrose will roll out its Leaf certification globally to all fresh produce growers by 2026.

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This article forms part of Farmers Weekly’s Transition series, which looks at how farmers can make their businesses more financially and environmentally sustainable.

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