KP Snacks to scale regenerative farming, Morrisons turns to insect-based chicken feed

In two positive sustainability moves in the UK's farming sector, KP Snacks has outlined plans to scale regenerative potato farming and Morrisons will begin decreasing the use of soy - a commodity linked to deforestation - in chicken feed.

KP Snacks to scale regenerative farming, Morrisons turns to insect-based chicken feed

70% of the emissions associated with UK animal agriculture can be attributed to feed. Image: Morrisons

KP Snacks, which owns crisp brands McCoy’s and Tyrrells, has already begun implementing regenerative farming practices including cover crop planting at two “pilot” potato farms in the UK. These practices help to improve soil quality, thus improving carbon sequestration, while also serving to boost biodiversity and reduce waste.

Now, it has announced an ambition to provide cover crop seeds and training to growers covering 400 acres by the end of this growing season. Growers will be supported to collect environmental data and to provide feedback on the practicalities of implementing regenerative practices. Consultancy Future Food Solutions is partnering with KP Snacks to deliver the scheme, called the Sustainable Futures Programme.

KP Snacks said in a statement that agriculture accounts for a “significant portion” of its value chain emissions across all scopes. Its latest environmental report does not disclose the company’s overall footprint or the proportion accounted for by agriculture. CDP has stated that businesses often see indirect emissions being 11 times higher than their direct operations.

On soil quality and biodiversity, the UK’s soil organic matter is estimated to have fallen by 50% within the past 60 years, according to Future Food Solutions. Moreover, research from the Natural History Museum has revealed that the UK has an average of just 53% of its native wildlife intact, putting it in the bottom 10% of the world’s countries.

“Implementing regenerative farming practices, such as the use of cover crops – dubbed pop-up rainforests by Sustainable Futures – enables soil to lock in quantities of carbon from the atmosphere, helping to reverse the effects of climate change, while at the same time dramatically improving soil health,” said Future Food Solutions’ director Steve Cann.

“We’re proud of the long term partnerships we have with our potato growers and the commitment these growers have made to agricultural sustainability over many years,” KP Snacks’ head of sustainability Nicola Robinson added. “We are excited to be launching this next phase of partnership with them, promoting the use of regenerative farming techniques as we all work towards a low carbon, resilient supply chain.”

Robinson was appointed to her role in March and is the business’s first head of sustainability.

Carbon-neutral eggs

In related news, Morrisons has partnered with agritech firm Better Origin to install insect ‘mini farms’ at 10 of its egg farms. The farms will see insects fed with waste fruit and vegetables from Morrisons’ own value chain and, when they are grown, they will be fed to the hens. Hens will also receive a supplementary diet of British beans, peas and sunflower seeds.

Morrisons has stated that this move will help to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with egg farms. Hens are typically fed diets including between 10% and 20% soy. This is a high-carbon option and a commodity considered high-risk for deforestation.

Morrisons is notably striving to bring all British farms it sources from to net-zero by 2030. For eggs specifically, it is expecting the first products certified as carbon neutral to hit supermarket shelves in 2022.

On deforestation, the company had promised to eliminate deforestation from soy supply chains by the end of 2020. Nonetheless, it estimates that the new initiative could save up to 56 hectares of land in South America from deforestation annually.

“Reducing soya from livestock feed is one of the key challenges for farms needing to lower their carbon footprint and we wanted to help find a solution.” Said Morrisons’ head of agriculture Sophie Throup. “An insect diet could suit our hens better – they seem to enjoy it  – and the nutritional and added health benefits are notable. We’re also finding a good home for our fruit and veg waste. We think that this could be part of the future of egg farming.”

Sarah George

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