Fruit, Vegetables & Salad Crops
Find out more about our approach to sourcing produce
Fresh Produce is very important to M&S; we source over 100,000 tonnes of fresh whole fruit, vegetables and salad crops each year. At M&S, we know that the best food comes from the best growers – the men and women dedicated to quality who take good care of their land and the people working on their farms. So, when it comes to choosing the farms we work with, we go to great lengths.
Increased production of Fresh Produce is vital in feeding our growing population with a healthy diet. Fruit, veg and salad is grown all over the world, supporting economies, billions of people and livelihoods. Whilst demand is increasing, resources are depleting. Competition for land, water and energy is intensifying, compounded by the impacts of climate change which is becoming increasingly apparent with greater volatility in weather resulting in erratic crop yields. Depleting biodiversity, soil degradation and water pollution linked to intensive farming practices are major threats to ability to produce food into the future. Agriculture accounts for the vast majority of M&S Foods’ GHG emissions and water use so we have a responsibility to source of Fresh Produce sustainably and promote sustainable agriculture.
Due to the international and seasonal nature of our Fresh Produce supply chain, it faces a number of social challenges such as working conditions, exploitation of workers in certain parts of the sector and the lack of young people willing to engage in an industry which is seen as challenging with low rewards.
In the face of significant challenges, working with responsible supplier partners and growers who uphold high standards and working collaboratively with others to address some of these sustainability issues is a top priority to ensure we continue to supply our customers high quality produce in years to come, protect workers, support livelihoods and minimise environmental impact.
Our strategy at M&S Food is to protect the magic, while modernising the areas that we know we need to focus on. At its core, protecting that magic is about protecting the quality and provenance of our food, and the strength and longevity of our supplier partnerships. We will always maintain our commitment to having leading standards and ensure that we work with our farming partners to work with, not against, nature. We source British produce wherever we can, however sourcing overseas is important to providing our customers choice but also supporting communities all over the world.
Each piece of fresh whole fruit, vegetables and salad crops comes from farms that meet our produce standards, as part of our Select Farms brand. Every M&S Select Farm, we know and trust to meet our high standards for food safety and quality, environmental protection and human rights
Farming can have a big impact on the environment and we want to make sure it’s a positive one. So, we’re asking all our growers to achieve a leading industry recognised farm environmental standard – such as the LEAF Marque. These standards recognise food that has been grown with care for the environment. Around 60% of our growers have already done so – so we are well on the way. We are also actively working to support improvement of environmental practices on the ground. For example In South Africa, we’ve partnered with WWF and other retailers to help farmers reduce the impacts of flooding and drought on fruit crops by improving water stewardship. In the UK, we are working with Soil Capital and Forum for the Future on enabling regenerative agriculture practices. We have been widely recognised as a leader in supporting sustainable agriculture practices and have invested in research and innovation for many years in order to develop and improve crop breeding and agronomic practices that benefit farmers and the environment
From a human rights perspective our ambition is to accelerate change by leading with others. We’re committed to working collaboratively with suppliers, civil society, governments and other businesses on human rights to inform our approach, participating in coalitions such as the Spanish Ethical Trade Forum and the FLA, sharing our experiences and helping to address root causes and influence systemic positive change.