Tesco will implement the LEAF Marque environmental assurancescheme across its entire global produce supply chain.

The decision, which will apply to 14,000 fresh produce growers supplying the supermarket, will demand that all of its UK growers are certified by the end of 2022.

It will begin the process of certifying the rest of its global grower base from 2023, with the aim of completing the transformation by 2025.

The retailer described the scale of the rollout as unprecedented among LEAF’s existing supply base.

The LEAF Marque is run by global farming organisation LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) and requires farms to take a whole business approach to delivering more sustainable, climate-positive farming through:

- Resilient and diverse businesses

- Increased imple­men­ta­tion of regen­er­a­tive practices

- Improved pos­i­tive action for cli­mate change through energy efficiency and reduced car­bon footprints

- Improved soil man­age­ment to enhance soil qual­i­ty and soil health

- Improved imple­men­ta­tion of effec­tive IPM solu­tions for crop health and protection

- Cir­cu­lar approaches to resource use and waste management

- Improved man­age­ment of water use and water quality

- Enriched diver­si­ty of native habi­tats and species.

'Restoring nature in food production'

The relationship represents a significant step in Tesco’s approach to restoring nature in food production. In partnership with WWF, the retailer has already committed to halving the environmental impact of the average shopping basket, and the requirements under the LEAF Marque Standard are expected to accelerate progress towards that goal by strengthening environmental farming practices within growing regions around the world.

Ashwin Prasad, chief product officer at Tesco, said: “In this decade of action on climate and nature, it’s vital we do all we can to produce food more sustainably.

'The implementation of the LEAF marque standard will help drive environmental improvements across thousands of growers and suppliers, both here in the UK and globally. But we can’t achieve the transformational change needed alone – we’re calling on the whole of the food industry to join us in raising environmental standards to ensure the food we eat is produced sustainably.”

LEAF chief executive Caroline Drummond added: 'This is a hugely significant and transformative moment in LEAF’s 30-year history. Tesco’s commitment will bring real and lasting changes in food production and offer assurance to consumers that their purchasing decisions are having a positive impact on our climate.

'We are extremely excited as we embark on this landmark relationship. Together, we will continue to 'raise the bar' for the good of our planet and future generations.’’