During the next fifteen to twenty years, the global population will continue to rise, placing unprecedented pressures on the supply and demand for the global food system. An increase in the more affluent middle classes will further impact the dynamic as a more western diet is sought around the globe. Competition for land, water and energy will intensify, compounded by the impacts of climate change which will become increasingly apparent with greater volatility in weather resulting in erratic crop yields. Decreasing oil supplies will increase energy costs, impact on the availability and cost of man-made fertilisers and negatively impact on farming practices accepted as the norm today. At the same time, farming faces an ever increasing social challenge due to the lack of young people willing to engage in an industry which is seen as challenging with low rewards.
This combination of factors presents a huge challenge to the farming industry and to society at large. Farmers and growers must become more technically efficient, increasing output whilst achieving ever higher quality standards and do this in an environment where cost control will be essential and environmental impact minimised, whilst managing ethical challenges relating to the welfare of people and animals.
We’ve developed our M&S Farming for the Future programme to help farmers address the challenges, identify opportunities for improvement and create a sustainable supply chain that can continue to deliver quality and innovation for the long term. We recognise that we need to work in partnership with our farmers and growers to be their customer of choice and to develop innovative supply chain relationships that secure the high quality raw materials to continue delivering our customers the quality food offer they expect. We have a sister programme – Forever Fish – to support fisheries and fish farms in our supply base.
Commitments and targets
We want to lead UK retail in terms of sourcing sustainably produced raw materials farmed to leading production standards – offering our customers good value, high quality products and services.
We are committed to producing our products with integrity, ensuring that our key sustainability hotspots are managed in order to continually improve the way that produce and protein are produced.
Farming for the Future is about us helping the farmers and growers in our supply base address the challenges ahead by finding opportunities to improve efficiency, environmental performance and ethical practice. This will make their businesses more resilient and profitable, ensuring that they can continue to deliver quality and innovation for the long term whilst reducing their impact on the world around them. In turn, this delivers security of supply for M&S.
Farming for the Future is aligned with our core values of Inspiration, Innovation, Integrity and In Touch and has been orientated around four strategic themes which provide a framework for action:
|Efficiency ||Because farmers and growers that operate at a high level of technical efficiency will be more profitable, use fewer inputs for the same or higher levels of output, and will be more carbon efficient. |
|Environment ||Because farmers and growers need to minimise their impact on the environment in terms of their use of soil, water, pesticides and energy and work to enhance biodiversity through appropriate environmental management. |
|Ethical Practice ||Because farmers and growers need to act ethically in the way that they run their businesses, treat their employees and neighbours and look after any animals in their care, ensuring high standards of welfare at all times. |
|Education ||Because there are not enough young people coming into the agriculture industry and so we need to play our part in encouraging more people to consider it as a career option and to help develop those already in the industry so that they can become the leaders of the future. |
At M&S we have a dedicated team of agriculture specialists and agronomists responsible for delivering the programme and implementing our agriculture policies. Launched in 2010, we’ve since invested over £3.5 million into sustainability initiatives in the farming sector through this programme and we are committed to continuing these initiatives in the years ahead.
Our M&S Farming for the Future programme is industry recognised and supported by the UK’s Farming Organisations – it has also been recognised externally and was recently a finalist in BITC’s Samworth Brothers Rural Action Award
To demonstrate our progress in sourcing our raw food materials from the most sustainable sources we will publish the results of our approach in our annual M&S Farming for the Future report
. Summary progress is also reported through our independently assured Plan A Report on an annual basis. During 2016, we plan to publish the key outcome measures we are using to measure the sustainability of our supply chains and details of how these are recorded.
Identifying and tackling key sustainability hotspots within our farming supply chains
Building capacity throughout the M&S supply base and strengthening future skills in the agricultural industry through educational and engagement activities
Monitoring and measuring our performance through sustainability outcome measures
Working with others
Listening, learning, responding and working in partnership is an important part of how we do business.
Our M&S Farming for the Future programme relies on relationships with a large number of external stakeholders, both in the delivery of activity and the shaping of our focus.
We work with producers and processors who share our commitment to sustainable sourcing and adhere to the requirements of our Codes of Practice.
We work closely with industry experts and scientists to develop our Farming for the Future programme and deliver our Plan A goals. We have a long-term partnership with FAI Farms,
who provide sustainability knowledge and direction and are responsible for managing our independent data collection and supply chain research.
We work closely with ADAS
, the SRUC (Scotland’s Rural College)
to provide independent consultancy to our Indicator Farms programme, with RSPB
on sustainable game sourcing and upland moor management and with a number of other third sector and government organisations. We are being supported by Cranfield University
on the delivery of our education programme and have partnered with Rabobank
and Harper Adams University College
on a scholarship. We regularly consult the UK livestock levy boards (QMS, EBLEX, HCC, BEPEX) along with the Farming Unions across the UK as part of our wider industry engagement activity.