We're doing the right thing by farmers (and their flock, herd or brood)
As a farm owner, Waitrose understands the challenges of maintaining high standards. However, we practise what we preach. Working with our farmers, growers and other suppliers, we ensure the best standards in quality, safety, environment and animal welfare are applied across our supply chain, supported by our own inspections and farm assurance schemes.
In recognition of the work that we do, Waitrose has been awarded a Big Tick Award in the Sustainable Supply Chain category at the Responsible Business Awards 2013.
Food safety and hygiene
Waitrose upholds high standards of food safety and hygiene, and endeavours to use the best farming techniques for the environment. These include:
- HACCP: all products must have Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) systems. Used in food production, these identify potential hazards before they arise and ensure control measures are implemented to reduce those risks. This provides the risk assessment required by food hygiene regulations.
- ICM: Waitrose sources its fruit and vegetable produce from conventional crops using Integrated Crop Management (ICM) systems, which ensure the best horticultural practices, site selection and husbandry, and minimal use of chemicals. ICM techniques like 'spraying to threshold', when pesticides are only used once pests exceed a predetermined level, are applied on its estate at Leckford.
- LEAF: Linking Environment And Farming (LEAF) is an independent charitable organisation that helps farmers to improve business performance, lower environmental impacts, conserve the British countryside for future generations and strengthen links with the public. Waitrose is the only retailer that insists all its British growers adopt the LEAF standard.
Meeting farmers halfway
With British producers facing ever-increasing expectations - to deliver traceability, meet higher environmental standards and maintain the countryside - Waitrose believes experiences should be shared. Initiatives such as 'meet the buyer' run every year and in every UK region, giving suppliers, large and small, direct access to Waitrose buyers and food technologists, and helping them to understand first-hand Waitrose's expectations. Supplier conferences and industry workshops help smaller producers to understand food legislation and help to ensure best practice is shared throughout Waitrose's supply chain and beyond.
Organic farming standards promote sustainable production, support more farmland wildlife, limit the use of chemicals, fertilisers and pesticides on the land and routinely avoid antibiotics. Organic food also tastes great, so it's no wonder Waitrose has been selling organic produce for more than 20 years. Twice voted 'Organic Supermarket of the Year' by the Soil Association, one of the organisations that certifies products to organic standards, Waitrose aims to offer the widest possible range of organic food and even launched its own range of Social Association organic toiletries in 2007.
Our organic and agricultural policy
According to pioneer environmentalist and founder of the Soil Association Lady Eve Balfour: “The criteria for a sustainable agriculture can be summed up in one word - permanence - which means adopting techniques that maintain soil fertility indefinitely that use as far as possible, only renewable sources; that do not grossly pollute the environment, and that foster biological activity within the soil and throughout the cycles of all the involved food chains.”
Waitrose respects this early view of organic farming and all organic farmers have to follow certain rules that impacts on the food they produce. For example, there are tight controls on chemicals allowed in organic farming. Organic farming also bans the use of genetically modified crops.
Organic produce is cultivated using a system of crop rotation (a method that helps to keep the soil healthy).
Organic agriculture aims to be sustainable and to maintain land in a healthy, fertile state for future generations. Organic growing techniques focus on maintaining a healthy soil and minimise the use of pesticides. Thus, environmental pollution is limited and wildlife protected and regenerated.
This limits environmental pollution and protects and regenerates wildlife. In some ways, organic farming is a return to traditional techniques but combined with many advantages of modern technology. High standards of animal welfare and consideration for local wildlife are a priority for our farmers.
All crops labelled as organic are governed by EU regulations which are implemented by the government in each European country. In the UK, DEFRA licences organisations to approve organic farms and producers including the processing, manufacturing, packing, labelling and distribution of organic foods. Only foods that have been certified by one of the approved organisations in the UK, such as the Soil Association or Organic Farmers and Growers can be legally sold as organic.
We currently stock more than 1,700 organic product lines and are committed to sourcing our organic products, whenever possible and practical, from within the UK.