Pioneers of organic food
Waitrose & Partners was the first British supermarket to sell organic food in 1983. More than 30 years later we continue to lead the field with Waitrose Duchy Organic. It is the UK’s largest own-label organic food and drink brand and celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2017.
Founded by HRH The Prince of Wales as Duchy Originals, and now run by Waitrose & Partners and known as Waitrose Duchy Organic, the brand has come a long way since its first product, the ever-popular oaten biscuit, went on sale. Yet its three main principles remain the same.
What is organic farming?
Organic food is farmed in harmony with nature, respecting animals and the environment. Organic farming standards promote sustainable production, the highest welfare standards and vibrant farmland wildlife. Produce and grains must be grown without artificial chemicals or fertilisers, and animals are raised on an organic diet without the routine use of antibiotics.
What is the Soil Association?
As well as Waitrose & Partners' high quality standards, any product sold as ‘organic’ in the EU has to comply with a set of organic standards. Every Waitrose Duchy Organic product therefore has to meet Soil Association (or equivalent) organic standards. Soil Association Certification is the UK’s leading organic certification body – certifying over 70% of the growing organic market, covering everything from organic food and drink, to textiles and organic health and beauty products. Find out more about organic standards here
About Waitrose Duchy Organic
In keeping with the brand's heritage, we proudly support British farmers by sourcing quality products from within the UK as our first choice – from Welsh lamb and Scottish salmon to English oats.
Where a reliable British supply isn’t available due to climate or seasonal availability, we source from high quality organic growers around the world. Organic bananas, teas and marmalade are among our best loved global products. In all our sourcing we seek to create a positive social and economic effect on the communities who supply our products and ingredients.
It’s not just the environment that benefits from you choosing to buy Waitrose Duchy Organic products. Sales from the brand provide a donation to The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund, supporting good causes across the UK.
So far, our customers have helped raise over £23.5 million to support a wide range of projects, including Innovative Farmers, part of the Duchy Future Farming programme - a partnership with the Soil Association, made up of a network of farmers, researchers and advisors developing innovative farming solutions that work with nature, from managing weeds and pests with fewer chemicals to testing more sustainable animal feeds.
We have committed to reducing packaging and finding more sustainable packaging solutions wherever possible. Waitrose Duchy Organic products are leading the way with all our packaging aiming to be widely-recycled, reusable or home compostable by 2023.
Our first ground-breaking innovation was the introduction of a new Waitrose Duchy Organic egg box made from a mixture of rye grass and recycled paper in September 2015. A UK first, the new box saves 77 tons of wood and paper per year, and requires 60% less water to produce than standard egg boxes.
In celebration of The Prince of Wales’ 70th Birthday on 14 November 2018, Waitrose & Partners gave HRH a unique and enduring gift: seven environmental pledges. From the introduction of the first own-brand home compostable banana bag, to reducing non-recycled plastic packaging from Waitrose Duchy Organic fruit punnets, they will substantially reduce packaging and food waste - causes famously close to The Prince’s heart.
A market first for grape packaging
From February 2019, all Waitrose Duchy Organic grapes have been packaged in a recyclable cardboard tray instead of a plastic one. A market first for grapes, the move is calculated to save 1.3 tonnes of plastic per year. A home compostable wrap is also being trialled.
First own-brand compostable banana bag
Bananas are the third best selling Waitrose Duchy Organic product, and introducing home-compostable bags will save 18 tonnes of plastic annually, making us the first supermarket own-brand to provide such innovative packaging for its bananas.
Home compostable punnet packaging
A home compostable tray and film was trialled earlier this year for Duchy Organic berries, including blueberries, which are another top selling Waitrose Duchy Organic product.
First UK home-compostable melon label
Customers will no longer have to peel off the adhesive label on their Waitrose Duchy Organic melons. The new label and adhesive being trialled will decompose along with the melon’s skin, either in home compost or food waste.
Organic cotton shopping bags
The new Waitrose Duchy Organic reusable cotton shopping bag is the first from an organic own-brand. This bag is designed to carry loose grocery items such as bakery goods, fruit or vegetables, reducing the need for individual plastic and paper bags.
Meet the grower...
Waitrose Duchy Organic carrot farmer Joe Rolfe is one of several British growers involved in promoting the environmental benefits of organic farming to UK consumers.
The Norfolk farmer hopes the ‘British Organic Carrots’ campaign will help people better understand what happens on the farm in order to yield the highest quality and finest tasting carrots.
The group of growers use innovative techniques to manage crops effectively, such as crop rotation and the use of ladybirds to control pests.
Sustainable soil health is encouraged through composting and rotating with legumes to provide nitrogen, rather than using synthetic fertilisers.