McCain to invest £25m to support sustainable farming

The UK's largest manufacturer of frozen potato products, McCain, has today (12 August) launched a new £25m investment to support British potato farmers during the coronavirus pandemic by encouraging sustainable growing practices.

McCain to invest £25m to support sustainable farming

McCain is also supporting British potato growers from the impacts of Covid-19

McCain’s Potato Farmer Pledger will see £25m provided through a multi-year loyalty scheme that rewards farmers for growing more sustainably, a fund to access new infrastructure and technology to improve harvesting and growing techniques and new contracts that better reflect the costs of production to ensure fair and sustainable contract pricing for growers.

“Today’s investment will not only help the potato industry but will also strengthen McCain’s partnerships with farmers and support the wider supply chain including our customers and suppliers. However, we can’t do this alone – to overcome the challenges facing growers, everyone needs to take the initiative to work collaboratively. It’s why within our sector we’re committed to working with farmers, customers, industry leadership groups and government to create a sustainable future for years to come,” McCain’s regional president for Great Britain and Ireland Howard Snape said.

McCain is also supporting British potato growers from the impacts of Covid-19. The pandemic led to the enforced closure of the hospitality sector, leaving a large amount of surplus potatoes that couldn’t be used.

In response, McCain is allocating 40% of its investment this year when farmers need it most, either to relief strains caused by the coronavirus or to support farmers during severe weather such as heatwaves.

“British potato farmers have been hit immensely hard in recent years,” Snape added. “Having faced a major drought and one of the wettest harvests on record, they’ve experienced two of the worst crops in 40 years. Added to that, without us honouring our contracts with growers and finding alternative outlets, they would have been left with a huge surplus of wasted potatoes due to COVID-19 shutting down the hospitality industry.”

McCain was part of a group of British food and drink manufacturers that developed a series of ambitious sustainability commitments in 2016 to improve productivity across the sector.

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF), which represents 16% of the entire UK food manufacturing sector, unveiled the ‘Ambition 2025’ document, which ramps up industry efforts to reduce environmental impacts, protect natural capital, and contribute to the delivery of a sustainable food system for the future.

Under Ambition 2025, FDF members are tasked with achieving a 55% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2025 from a 1990 baseline.

More recently, the National Farmers Union (NFU) has unveiled a new vision to help the sector meet net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, ten years ahead of the Government’s nationwide target.

Elsewhere, WRAP has issued new guidance to help farmers and growers reduce the 3.6 million tonnes of food wasted on farms each year.

Matt Mace

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