Waitrose & Partners pioneered the sale of organic food in supermarkets and we continue to lead the field with Waitrose Duchy Organic, which celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary in 2017. Founded by HRH The Prince of Wales, Duchy Originals has come a long way since the first product, the ever-popular oaten biscuit, went on sale. Waitrose Duchy Organic is now the UK’s largest own-label organic brand and the second largest UK organic brand overall.
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 reliance on artificial chemicals or fertilisers, and animals must be raised on an organic diet without the routine use of antibiotics.
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: https://www.soilassociation.org/certification/food-drink/what-is-organic-certification/
In keeping with Duchy’s heritage, we support British farmers by sourcing from within the UK as our first choice. From Welsh lamb and Scottish salmon to English oats, we select quality products from across the UK wherever we can. Where a reliable British supply isn’t available due to climate or seasonal availability, we make an organic choice from high quality growers around the world. Organic bananas, teas and marmalade are amongst our best loved global products. In all our sourcing we seek to create a positive social and economic impact on the communities who supply our products and ingredients.
Duchy Organic shop
Shop our range of organic products here
Registered Charity 1127255 (England and Wales)
It’s not just the environment that benefits from you choosing to buy Duchy Organic products. Sales from Waitrose Duchy Organic provide a donation to The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation, supporting good causes across the UK. So far you’ve helped to raise over £23 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. Learn more about the programme and some of our Innovative Farmers here: https://www.soilassociation.org/farmers-growers/innovative-farming/
Duchy Organic Packaging Commitments
We have committed to reducing packaging wherever possible - and to finding more sustainable packaging solutions. Waitrose Duchy Organic products are leading the way in meeting this commitment. All Duchy Organic packaging will 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 is saves 77 tons of wood and paper per year, and requires 60% less water to produce than standard egg boxes.
The work continues at pace and in celebration of The Prince of Wales’ 70th Birthday on 14th November 2018, Waitrose & Partners gave His Royal Highness a unique and enduring gift: seven environmental pledges for 2019. From the introduction of the first own-brand home compostable banana bag, to the removal of non-recycled plastic packaging from Duchy Organic biscuits, they will substantially reduce packaging and food waste - causes famously close to The Prince’s heart. Overall, these pledges will remove over 42 tonnes of plastic.
Seven enduring gifts
Environmental innovations that further underline the Duchy Organic brand’s green credentials
1. A market first for grape packaging
From February 2019, all 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 trialed.
2. First own-brand compostable
Bananas are the third bestselling Duchy product, and introducing home-compostable bags will save 18 tonnes of plastic annually and make Duchy Organic the first supermarket own-brand to provide such packaging for its bananas.
3. PE-free ice cream tubs
Ice cream tubs are ordinarily coated with a polymer polyethylene (PE), but in another supermarket first Duchy ice cream will switch to non-PE-coated tubs in 2019, which means that they can be widely recycled with paper.
4 Change over to Celanese punnet packaging
A clear film made from sustainably sourced wood pulp, Celanese will replace plastic in berry packaging. Starting with blueberries - another top-selling Duchy line - the packet’s plastic window will be switched for Celanese.
5. Duchy biscuits plastic wrapping to be replaced
A home-compostable wrap will be tested on plain biscuits, including the Duchy Oaten biscuit, before being extended to the full biscuit range. Removing plastic packaging from Duchy Organic biscuits will save 6.9 tonnes of single-use plastic a year.
6. First UK
Customers will no longer have to peel off the adhesive label on their Duchy Organic melons because the new label and adhesive will decompose along with the melon’s skin, either in home compost or food waste.
7. Organic cotton shopping bags
The first own-brand organic reusable cotton shopping bag, this Waitrose Duchy Organic bag is designed to carry loose grocery items such as bakery goods, fruit or vegetables, so reducing the need for individual plastic and paper bags.
Elen Ormson, Partner & Health Brand Manager says:
“I am really proud to work on a brand that not only stands for delicious organic food, but also constantly strives to be more sustainable for both organic farming production and the environment”
Meet the producer...
Patrick Allpress farms 2,800 acres of Cambridgeshire land, producing Duchy Organic leeks and onions for Waitrose. His team prepare the vegetables by trimming the leaves and he uses these to feed his anaerobic digester (AD) plant, which in turn produces green energy for his farm. The plant also produces a by-product, a nutrient-rich liquid called anaerobic digestate.
At an agricultural show last summer, Patrick met up with a group of other farmers with AD plants. They all wanted to know more about what the digestate could do for their soils, so applied for funding and support from the Duchy Future Farming programme to set up a practical ‘field lab’. Now, the group are working with researchers to test the effects of digestate on their soil health, and on their crops.