Our global economy needs natural resources to provide raw materials (such as food ingredients, fibre and fuel) and natural systems (such as healthy, fertile soils; clean water and air; and a regulated climate) to maintain vital support services for our wellbeing and security. But, population growth and increasing consumption is putting pressure on many of earth’s natural resources. Although consumption varies a great deal from place to place, WWF
estimates that if everyone in the world consumed as much as people do in the UK we would need three planets to support us.
The increasing demand for food poses great challenges to the industry. Growing pressure on diminishing resources and poor global stewardship could increase our costs, restrict our access to key raw materials and commodities and make our global supply chains more volatile. In addition, customers are increasingly choosing healthier options and demanding information and reassurance of the origin and content of their food.
We rely on natural resources to supply all the raw materials we need to produce our high quality products, so these issues affect us directly.
Commitments and targets
We are committed to protecting our brand integrity and maintaining customer trust by ensuring that the content of our products are safe, legal, high quality and accurately reflect any claims or statements that are made. We also want to lead our sector in sustainable production and consumption.
We want to offer our customers the good value, high quality products and services they expect from M&S, while respecting planetary boundaries and the need for social equity. We recognise the integral role of animal health and welfare in sustainable food production and strive to continue progressing the highest welfare standards.
Over 3,000 raw materials and ingredients are used in our food products. We know that global food security is threatened by population growth, changing weather patterns, water scarcity, fraud and unsustainable farming and fishing practices. Against this complicated backdrop, we face the twin challenge of ensuring:
- Access to these ingredients at competitive prices
- A sustainable supply of nutritious food.
We have a strong heritage of sourcing with integrity. Over the years, we’ve taken significant steps to improve the sourcing of key raw materials in our products. For instance, one of the reasons why we weren’t affected by the horsemeat scandal of 2013 was due to the controls we place on ingredients. We cannot be complacent though and we are continually improving our approach to traceability and supply chain control to ensure it remains industry leading. Neither can we do this alone – collaboration is vital if we are to influence industry practices and deliver systemic positive change.
Our food ingredients can be broadly classified into two groups, although we refer to them collectively as raw materials:
| Primary raw materials || Ingredients which are sourced from a relatively short and controlled supply chain and in most instances we know the farmer/grower or production region. Examples of primary raw materials include eggs, beef, seafood, fruit and vegetables. |
| Traded commodities || Globalisation has transformed the geography of food systems and many of the supporting ingredients that go into our products are sourced from the global marketplace. As a result our direct suppliers are generally several steps removed from where these ingredients originated. This means we need a different approach to providing assurances that production, processing and trade has been done to our requirements. Examples of traded commodities include wheat flour, soy, palm oil, tea, coffee, and cocoa. |
Raw materials are also sourced for the packaging and hardware we use as well as for household products such as cleaning products. Find out more about our approach to food packaging and hardware
and household products
Where we make a claim on pack, either directly or through the consumer information we provide, or have a brand value, we have a legal and moral obligation to ensure the content of the product accurately reflects these statements.
The diagram and tables below set out our approach to raw materials in more detail.