Waitrose gets to the root of the problem and becomes first supermarket to sign up to historic Organic Potato Pledge

Waitrose gets to the root of the problem and becomes first supermarket to sign up to historic Organic Potato Pledge.

The Pledge will ensure that by 2026 all Waitrose fresh organic potatoes are better for biodiversity whilst combating harmful potato diseases

In a spud-tacular move, Waitrose will be the first major retailer to sign up to The UK Robust Potato Pledge – which will see us move away from the use of copper-based fungicides on our organic fresh potatoes in order to combat late blight Phytophthora. 

We will achieve this through pledging to grow and sell only resistant or “robust” organic fresh potatoes by 2026, thus removing the need to use potentially harmful copper fungicides. 

As well as having a positive impact on biodiversity across our own operations, it complements our other leading work in regenerative agriculture and ambitions to restore biodiversity in rural settings. For example – the 40% of land at our farm on the Leckford Estate that we dedicate entirely to nature, and our work to remove the sale of peat and potentially harmful garden chemicals from sale in our stores and on Waitrose.com.

Marija Rompani, Director of Ethics and Sustainability, at the John Lewis Partnership says, “With COP26 on the horizon we’re constantly looking for ways to improve our impact on nature and biodiversity. This pledge is a great opportunity for us to help reduce our environmental impact through innovation and we hope that through this leadership, and the leadership of our producers, the rest of the industry will follow suit.” 

  • By 2026, the pledge partners will jointly work towards the  goal that all fresh organic potatoes grown in the UK are robust varieties, in order to make organic potato cultivation more sustainable.
  • The partners are working towards robust potato varieties making up 100% of organic sales to UK consumers after 2026.

As a retailer we will aim to: 

  • Set the goal of increasing the proportion of Phytophthora resistant and other robust potatoes to 100% of our entire fresh organic range within 5 years (2026), provided that these varieties meet the required quality.
  • Commit to actively promote potatoes from Phytophthora resistant varieties.

Hugh Blogg, Horticultural Advisor at the Soil Association, has led on securing commitments to the pledge on behalf of the Organic Growers Alliance. He said: “It is great to see so many retailers signing up to this pledge, which we hope will help to unite supply chains in the organic potato sector.

Innovative breeding programmes have had huge success at establishing varieties that are blight resistant, while still providing all the qualities that make potatoes a delicious choice for shoppers. The backing of key retailers to stock these products is an exciting next step in the journey towards a more resilient and sustainable potato sector.”

The launch of this pledge happened at the Organic Matters Conference.

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