Biodiversity is critical to maintaining the natural ecosystem that safeguards food security worldwide. Overapplication of pesticides and unsustainable land use, means plants, animals, and microorganisms that pollinate, clean our air, and fertilise our soil are being lost with devastating consequences, putting global food security at risk. At Waitrose, we want to ensure our food is produced in a way that preserves and even enhances key natural resources, and we are conscious that maintaining and increasing biodiversity is essential. The Waitrose Agriculture Strategy sets out our commitment to farm with nature, enhance biodiversity, and regenerate the environment we rely on.
We are already making strides within the Waitrose fresh produce category to protect biodiversity. At present, we are the only UK retailer to insist all our conventional UK (non organic) fresh fruit and vegetables are grown to Linking Environment And Farming (LEAF) standards, with minimal pesticide and herbicide use, with a focus on nature-friendly and biologically diverse farming. All our fresh produce growers complete a Waitrose Farm Assessment each year, part of which encourages farmers and growers to set aside farm land to enhance biodiversity.
In our dairy supply chains, all farmers are encouraged to devote at least 10% of their dairy farm to biodiversity and habitat management. We encourage planting mixed lays, including legumes such as red or white clover, which is nutritious for cows and also beneficial for bees.
Our Waitrose egg farmers have used a seed mix to plant over 100 acres of wild flowers to provide much-needed food for bees and butterflies which, in turn, provide food for farmland birds. The summer flowering of these wild flowers will offer a rich nectar food source for up to four years.