Improving soil health becomes a top priority for Lamb Weston / Meijer. The manufacturer of potato products intensifies its collaboration with the 600 growers in Europe that supply its potatoes. This is disclosed in Lamb Weston / Meijer’s Sustainability Report 2017-2018 published recently.
Last year, Lamb Weston / Meijer added ‘sustainable agriculture’ to its existing six focus areas for sustainability. Close collaboration with growers is key to its Sustainable Agriculture Plan. To date, the plan has been rolled out to 200 Dutch growers and in the next few years Lamb Weston / Meijer is going to actively involve its other 400 growers in the UK, Belgium, France, Germany and Austria.
Soil health lies at the heart of Lamb Weston / Meijer’s Sustainable Agriculture Plan, as soil is the most valuable and scarce natural resource growers use. Other relevant topics linked to soil health are water, greenhouse gas emissions, plant protection products and biodiversity. Lamb Weston / Meijer developed KPI’s for all of these topics, to measure the impact, compare results of individual growers and most important to enable growers to learn from each other.
“Declining soil health is a major issue”, CEO Bas Alblas comments. “It is absolutely vital that we tackle this. The biggest impact we can have, is by working more closely with our farmers.” To assess soil health, Lamb Weston / Meijer is going to score its growers by the key measures they use to improve soil health. These measures include the crop rotation cycle, planting rest crops and a positive organic matter balance. Based on the total points scored, growers will receive a soil label score ranging from ‘basic’ to ‘expert’.
Dealing with drought
Lamb Weston / Meijer feels obliged to support farmers in dealing with the effect of climate change. In 2018 farmers had to deal with excessive drought. This underpins the importance of Lamb Weston / Meijer’s close collaboration with farmers. Healthy soils support the natural water holding capacity. Combined with water-efficient irrigation such as drip irrigation, the farmer protects both crop quality and the ground water level. To measure greenhouse gas emissions, Lamb Weston / Meijer uses the ‘Cool Farm Tool’, and to assess the impact of plant protection products they use the ‘CLM Pesticide Yardstick’. Both are known and accepted tools to measure environmental impact.
‘’Sustainable Seven’ achievements
Water belongs to Lamb Weston / Meijer’s Sustainable Seven, which are the seven pillars of its sustainability strategy. Up to 2018 they reduced their water use per ton of finished product by 3.8%, compared to 2008.
The energy intensity was reduced by 24%, with a 30% lower CO2 emission intensity from processing. Its annual road kilometres to ship products to customers was reduced by 6.5 million, leading to nearly 9% less CO2 emission from transport. Their product carbon footprint from processing was cut by 20.4% compared to 2008, leading to a 20% smaller carbon footprint from field to fork in the past ten years.
From a circular point of view, Lamb Weston / Meijer achieved that 97.3% of its by-products and waste streams are reused, recycled or recovered and products are packed in recyclable plastic. More information online at www.lambweston.eu