Morrisons in the UK has pledged to be the first supermarket completely supplied by net zero carbon British farms by 2030, five years ahead of the market.
It will work with 3,000 farmers and growers to produce affordable net zero carbon meat, fruit and vegetables.
David Potts, Chief Executive of Morrisons, said, “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. It’s years ahead of industry expectations but it’s our duty to do it.”
The first products to reach net zero carbon status will be eggs, by 2022, followed by lamb, fruit, vegetables, pork and beef in the years to follow.
The supermarkets says UK agriculture accounts for 10 per cent of all the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. It adds that two thirds of people consider the environmental impact of the food they eat.
The National Farmers Union has asked farmers to work towards a 2040 net zero goal, and other supermarkets are working towards 2035.
“Once a workable blueprint has been established, the models will be shared with all Morrisons farmers”
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 will start working with a selection of meat and produce farmers to create net zero carbon farm models. Once a workable blueprint has been established, the models will then be shared with all Morrisons farmers, so that all food can be produced in this net zero carbon way.
The farm models will look at reducing rearing different animal breeds, using low food-mile feedstuffs, using renewable energy and low emission housing, and cutting down fuel and fertiliser use. They will also look to plant grassland and clover, restore peatland, improve soil health, planting trees and seed hedgerows.
Beef farming generates 45 per cent of agriculture’s carbon emissions, despite producing only five per cent of products sold. Nearly half of this is down to methane produced by cattle. Morrisons will work with its beef farms to use smaller cattle breeds, pick low methane feeds, and look at methane reducing supplements, such as seaweed.
Morrisons will work with universities, vets, farming and countryside organisations and carbon experts. It will partner with the NFU to pool farmer knowledge, work with Natural England on planting and water use, and use industry experts to measure and evaluate data.
It will also work with Harper Adams University, which specialises in agriculture and the environment to set up the world’s first School of Sustainable Farming.
Minette Batters, President of the National Union of Farmers said, “British farming has a key role to play in the nation’s drive to net zero.
“Our contribution spans reducing emissions, storing carbon on farmland, and renewables and the bioeconomy.”
Patrick Holden, Chief Executive 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.”