Tesco has announced the completion of its landmark roll-out of LEAF Marque certification, with all of its UK fruit and veg growers now certified to robust environmental standards, working towards whole-farm, continuous improvement in areas including climate resilience, biodiversity, soil health, greenhouse gas emissions, and deforestation.
LEAF Marque encourages growers to continuously improve upon key sustainability metrics on their farm. By benchmarking growers’ progress against practices related to nature, climate, society, and economy, the LEAF Marque Standard identifies target areas and helps producers drive further improvements.
Tesco has now started the process of certifying the rest of its 8,000-strong global grower base, with the aim of completing the transition by 2025.
LEAF Marque, run by global farming organisation LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming), requires farms to take a whole business approach to delivering more sustainable, climate positive farming.
Tesco’s long-standing onion supplier, Stourgarden, which is based in the Stour Valley on the Essex-Suffolk border has been LEAF Marque certified for the last ten years. During this time, the results of the business’ efforts to boost biodiversity are having a positive effect. By putting some fields down to permanent pasture it has led to an increase in barn owls nesting locally and hunting the grasslands for field mice, shrews and voles.
Ashwin Prasad, Chief Product Officer at Tesco said: “We’re excited to have completed the roll-out of LEAF Marque certification across all our UK grown fruit and veg supply base. Reaching this significant milestone was only possible by working in partnership with our suppliers and growers, and it’s really encouraging to see environmental improvements already having an impact on farms across the UK.”
“As we continue our roll out of the LEAF Marque across our international supply chain, we’re calling on the whole of the food industry to join us in implementing consistent, improved environmental standards to ensure the food we eat is produced sustainably around the world.”
Philip Wynn, Chairman and Acting CEO at LEAF said: “The climate and ecosystem emergency is one of the biggest challenges of our time. Retailers, consumers, food companies and governments all over the world are looking for more sustainable and climate positive methods of production. In this context, we are delighted that Tesco are accelerating their ambitious and far-reaching net-zero targets through LEAF Marque certification. It provides a powerful catalyst for change, empowering growers to adopt more regenerative approaches by building healthier and more productive soils, delivering better air and water quality and enhancing biodiversity.”
“The continued roll out of LEAF Marque across Tesco’s entire global fresh produce supply chain, represents a transformational moment. LEAF Marque certified growers are some of the most innovative and forward-looking farmers in the world. We greatly look forward to working with Tesco’s fresh produce growers and continue to scale up our resources to support them.”
Tesco’s partnership with LEAF represents a significant element of its approach to restoring nature in food production.
In partnership with WWF, the retailer has committed to halving the environmental impact of the average shopping basket, and the requirements of LEAF Marque certification are expected to accelerate progress towards that goal by strengthening environmental farming practices within growing regions around the world.
George Rix, Managing Director at Stourgarden, a third-generation family farming business, said: “Protecting and enhancing biodiversity on the farms we work with has always been central to our approach at Stourgarden – and the use of LEAF has helped us continuously improve how we look after things like soil and water use. Through the documenting of activities and putting targets in place, LEAF has also led to a marked increase in the amount and variety of wildlife on our farms over the last ten years. It’s really encouraging to see species such as brown hares returning to the land.”