LEAF sets new target that will see 85% of all UK fruit and vegetables grown more sustainably

On the eve of the global climate change summit, COP26 next week, LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) has announced it has set a new target for 85% of all UK fruit and vegetables to be grown more sustainably. The target will see the amount of UK fresh produce grown by LEAF Marque certified businesses almost doubling within the next five years.

LEAF, which was founded in 1991, is now the leading global sustainable farming organisation. It is committed to working with farmers, retailers and brands across the food supply chain to drive the delivery of more regenerative, nature-based farming and achieve this ambitious goal. Meeting this target will significantly contribute to positive action to combat climate change.

Working towards the target will further enhance the impact of the LEAF Marque – a global environmental assurance system, awarded to farms that deliver significant environmental achievements against LEAF’s rigorous standards of sustainable farming practices.

All Waitrose’s UK-grown fresh produce has been LEAF Marque certified for the past 14 years and LEAF recently announced it is now also working with Tesco to implement the LEAF Marque across its entire global fresh produce supply chain. This is a move that the retailer said would strengthen the environmental standards required by its 14,000 fresh produce growers. Added to this, earlier this month PepsiCo, one of the world’s leading food and beverage companies, announced plans to support the achievement of LEAF Marque certification of its 300+ UK-based Quaker Oats farmers over the next two years, to encourage more regenerative farming practices.

Caroline Drummond MBE, LEAF Chief Executive explains: “With global food demand set to double by 2050, and only nine harvests before the 2030 deadline for the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the need to protect, sustainably manage and restore the earth’s resources whilst producing food is essential.

“LEAF Marque growers are already leading the way in tackling climate change through reducing carbon emissions, building healthier and more resilient soils, delivering better air and water quality and enhancing biodiversity. This is why we are committed to working across the food supply chain over the next five years to see 85% of UK-grown fruit and vegetables being grown by LEAF Marque certified businesses. We are immensely proud to be working together with the wider food industry towards better, smarter and more resilient climate positive farming solutions, delivered through LEAF Marque.”

Currently, 39% of the 524 LEAF Marque farmers in Britain use a carbon footprint tool, 42% are recording soil organic matter and 67% use one or more types of renewable energy generation on-farm. A further 83% manage reservoirs for water quality, safety and wildlife and 84% regularly monitor animal welfare indicators.

Over the past 30 years, LEAF has been dedicated to inspiring and enabling more integrated, circular and nature-based global farming and food systems. Through its UK-wide LEAF Network of leading demonstration farmers and world-renowned Innovation Centres, it has driven an effective and far-reaching programme of sustainable farming development. It also works across the education sector to inspire and engage young people with farming, food production and the natural environment.

Caroline Drummond concluded: “Scaling up the reach and impact of all our work will require us to develop deeper, extended business partnerships and new business models. Our pledge to drive a more climate positive fresh produce sector in the UK, evidenced through LEAF Marque, feeds into our wider 10-year strategy to raise the ‘sustainability bar’ across all farming sectors. There will be challenges ahead but as we look beyond the COP26 summit, the leadership being shown by Waitrose, Tesco and Quaker Oats UK signals a hugely transformative moment for the health of our planet.”

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