Supermarket completes rollout of certification across UK fruit and veg suppliers, with focus turning to its global base

Tesco has completed its LEAF Marque certification rollout, with all of its UK fruit and veg growers now achieving the standard.

LEAF Marque encourages growers to continuously improve upon key sustainability metrics on their farm. By benchmarking growers’ progress against practices related to nature, climate, society, and economy, the standard identifies target areas and helps producers drive further improvements.

Tesco has now begun the process of certifying the rest of its 8,000-strong global grower base, with the aim of completing the transition by 2025.

Ashwin Prasad, chief product officer at Tesco, said: “We’re excited to have completed the rollout of LEAF Marque certification across all our UK-grown fruit and veg supply base. Reaching this significant milestone was only possible by working in partnership with our suppliers and growers, and it’s really encouraging to see environmental improvements already having an impact on farms across the UK.

“As we continue our rollout of the LEAF Marque across our international supply chain, we’re calling on the whole of the food industry to join us in implementing consistent, improved environmental standards to ensure the food we eat is produced sustainably around the world.”

Philip Wynn, chairman and acting CEO at LEAF, added: “The continued rollout of LEAF Marque across Tesco’s entire global fresh produce supply chain represents a transformational moment. LEAF Marque-certified growers are some of the most innovative and forward-looking farmers in the world. We greatly look forward to working with Tesco’s fresh produce growers and continue to scale up our resources to support them.”

Case study: Stourgarden

Tesco’s longstanding onion supplier Stourgarden, which is based in the Stour Valley on the Essex-Suffolk border, has been LEAF Marque-certified for the last 10 years. During this time, the results of the business’ efforts to boost biodiversity are having a positive effect, Tesco said.

By putting some fields down to permanent pasture it has led to an increase in barn owls nesting locally and hunting the grasslands for field mice, shrews and voles.

George Rix, managing director at Stourgarden, a third-generation family farming business, said: “Protecting and enhancing biodiversity on the farms we work with has always been central to our approach at Stourgarden - and the use of LEAF has helped us continuously improve how we look after things like soil and water use.

”Through the documenting of activities and putting targets in place, LEAF has also led to a marked increase in the amount and variety of wildlife on our farms over the last 10 years. It’s really encouraging to see species such as brown hares returning to the land.”