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
Summary progress is reported through our independently assured Plan A Report on an annual basis and on this website.