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Sainsbury’s and Sustainable Farming

Challenge

Helping individual farmers in the supply chain to cut emissions.

Problem

Sainsbury’s has a 20 by 20 plan (20 targets for 2020) to cut CO₂ emissions across the supply chain. One of these is to secure a supply of quality British food at fair prices way into the future. This aim is linked to driving sustainable agricultural practices.

Solution

Sainsbury’s is helping dairy, meat and poultry farmers identify ways to operate more efficiently and reduce the environmental impact of their farms. Covering 2,632 producers across seven food sectors, the initiative includes fresh produce and wheat. The initiative seeks to share best practice from Sainsbury’s own experience and for the farmers themselves to share knowledge and best practice.

The work is driven by an on-farm carbon assessment tool that depends on direct, live measurements carried out annually over a three-year period by trained assessors on individual farms rather than a desk-modelling exercise. The scorecard used combines cost and carbon savings. Plans are then developed, giving farms practical steps to achieve cost and carbon efficiencies covering a multitude of farm practices, from moderating use of artificial fertilisers, to calving intervals, better use of feeds, improved pasture regimes and other methods to increase yields.

Example successes include:

  • 5% improvement in milk yields was achieved by diverting farmers from carbon-intensive concentrate feeds and artificial fertilisers to better management of grassland and forage. Across the dairy group this has resulted in a saving of £310,000 on fertiliser and a saving of £11,154 per herd on feed.
  • Lamb savings in one year amounted to 10,266 tonnes of carbon – equivalent to the emissions from 4,100 family cars.

Benefits

Securing farmers’ futures
Knowledge shared among suppliers
Build resilience into supply chain
£1.2 million in savings to date

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