Aldi UK pledges eco-certification for all fruit and veg by end of 2023

LEAF stands for ‘Linking Environment and Farming’. The scheme is one of the world’s largest certification programmes for farmers, recognising the uptake of more sustainable approaches to food production.

It operates in 19 national markets but the UK is one of the largest. As well as certifying fruit and vegetable growers, the scheme also provides certification to farms producing livestock, grains and flowers.

Farms are only able to achieve certification, the scheme states, if they take a whole-business approach that delivers multiple benefits across the environmental agenda. The long-term aim is to help farmers achieve nature-positive or regenerative farming, whereby net-positive outcomes are achieved for biodiversity and soil health.

As of 2021, around 45% of produce grown in the UK was LEAF-certified, the scheme estimates. LEAF is aiming to cover 85% of UK-grown fruit and vegetables by the start of 2026.

Today (3 April), Aldi UK has announced a new ambition for all of its UK-based fresh produce growers to achieve the LEAF Marque by the end of the year. edie has enquired as to what proportion of growers are already certified; the Aldi website claims that the proportion stands at around 55%.

The discount supermarket’s corporate responsibility director Liz Fox said achieving the target will mark a “significant step” in the company’s journey to deliver targets on emissions and sustainable sourcing.

Internationally, Aldi is aiming for net-zero emissions across the value chain by 2040 and for zero deforestation in supply chains by 2030, with specific action plans relating to palm oil, timber and soy.

On British produce specifically, Aldi UK is signed up to the National Farmers Union’s Fruit and Veg Pledge, which sets requirement on long-term stability in contracts. It also commits Aldi to ensure that 40% of its fresh produce sold in the UK is grown in the UK, and to standards on promoting seasonal fruits and vegetables.

LEAF growth

At the start of 2022, Lidl GB announced plans to help all British suppliers of fresh produce to achieve LEAF Marque certification within 24 months. The scheme also received new support from PepsiCo. The multinational has pledged that all 300+ of its UK-based Quaker Oats farmers will achieve certification by the end of 2023. Waitrose certified all UK-grown produce to the standard more than ten years ago.

More recently, Tesco confirmed that all of its British fruit and vegetable farmers were certified.

Commenting on Aldi’s new pledge, LEAF’s director of business development Clare Mike said: “Retailers have a critical role to play in driving forward and supporting more climate positive approaches to food production. Through LEAF Marque certification, underpinned by regenerative, nature-based farming principles and backed up by our extensive demonstration, technical and education activities, our certified farmers are making significant advances in combating the effects of climate change.

“We are delighted to be working with Aldi and their fresh produce growers.”

Related news: British supermarkets forge fresh collaboration to tackle Scope 3 emissions

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie