A coalition of the UK’s leading food companies, in consultation with WRAP, IGD and WWF-UK, has come together to establish a unified standard for product carbon footprinting in the grocery industry. The BRC Mondra Coalition will leverage breakthrough technology to scale this standard and provide the means to monitor, improve and communicate the environmental performance of products, enabling effective measurement and management of Scope 3 emissions, in line with the BRC’s 2040 Net Zero ambition.

With total emissions from food estimated at around 30% of total Global House Gas (GHG) emissions, many retailers and brand owners have established their own targets, with some pledging to achieve Net Zero by 2040. However, the major challenge in achieving this goal is measuring and managing Scope 3 emissions within the supply chain. The two hurdles in measuring and managing Scope 3 are a lack of robust environmental data from supply chains and a clear understanding of how product level footprinting is conducted and reported across the chain.

The BRC Mondra Coalition has been set up to tackle these challenges, leveraging related initiatives led by WRAP, IGD and WWF-UK to define the ruleset for product life cycle assessment, from ‘farm to fork’.

Brand owners and their suppliers can choose to use this ruleset to build environmental performance into their product and category plans, and make data driven decisions that move them towards Net Zero.

Key learnings from this industry-led initiative are being shared with DEFRA’s Food Data Transparency Partnership (FDTP), to support the shaping of inbound policy in this space. Recommendation papers into Government on Scope 3 reporting and environmental product labelling are planned for later this year.

Participating retailers include Tesco, M&S, Ocado Retail and ASDA, all of which have chosen to implement Mondra’s automated LCA system to enable rigorous product footprinting at scale. Sainsbury’s, Lidl and Co-op are also piloting the system.

Tesco was one of the first major retailers to sign up to the scheme. Claire Lorains, Group Quality, Technical and Sustainability Director, Tesco, comments: “We’re delighted to be a part of the BRC Mondra Coalition that brings together the food industry to tackle the challenge of consistent carbon reporting across the value chain. By working together in a pre-competitive way to develop product level sustainability data, we can accelerate decarbonisation, and help meet our goal of reaching Net Zero across our whole footprint by 2050.”

Lucinda Langton, Head of Sustainability, M&S Food adds: “We’re proud to be part of the Mondra BRC coalition. Working in collaboration with industry-leading organisations and NGO partners allows us to address the single biggest challenge we all face in terms of carbon reduction, which is scope 3 GHG emissions. It will not only support wider industry change but enhance our progress on our Plan A roadmap to net zero.”

Karen Fisher, Senior Environmental Manager, Co-op concludes: “At Co-op, we welcome this collective approach, which we consider to be a game changer for both ourselves and our hard-working suppliers, to help alleviate the challenge around collecting data from our supply chains whilst driving real change in carbon reduction.”

Retailers are joined by major brands including Starbucks and Nando’s and suppliers Avara, Samworth Brothers, Greencore, Bakkavor, Pilgrims UK, Dunbia and Cranswick, collectively representing a major portion of the UK food and beverage market.

One discrete workstream in the Coalition programme called ‘Farm Data Done Better’ (FDDB) is focused on the best routes to incorporate farm-stage carbon data for product footprints. FDDB is led by sustainability advisors 3Keel on behalf of the Coalition, with practical support from Avara and other members, to engage the wider UK agricultural sector and develop recommendations for consistent treatment of farm data across supply chains.

Andrew Brodie, People, Sustainability & Communications Director, Avara Foods comments: “Avara is delighted to be part of the BRC Mondra coalition as taking our carbon footprint data to a product level, whether that’s a product for a retailer or for food service is a huge step forward in accuracy from where we are today. This greater level of detail creates the opportunity to work with our customers on benchmarking our performance and identifying significant reductions in line with our shared science-based targets and net zero commitment.”

Andy Wright, Responsible Business Director, Samworth Brothers says: “This has the potential to be a game changer – manufacturers and retailers are working together to figure out how we can start to change the food system and work collaboratively on addressing our collective Scope 3 carbon footprints, this gives us the tools we need to start embedding this thinking into everyday processes and making real change.”

Mondra’s AI-driven technology enables food brand owners and suppliers to run LCAs on thousands of products in a matter of hours, prioritise action, and each engage their suppliers in a meaningful way to reduce impacts. Once invited to the platform, suppliers can refine the data that the brand owner relies on, whilst protecting intellectual property, and unlock product development tools that allow them to model composition and sourcing scenarios that drive environmental performance improvement.

Mondra integrates with existing commercial retailer systems, notably those provided by global tech giant, Oracle, ensuring a seamless relationship between business operations and carbon accounting.

Jason Barrett, Founder and CEO of Mondra comments; “Our ambition is to establish the digital infrastructure for future food systems, enabling brand owners and their suppliers to measure and improve the environmental performance of their products – doing so collaboratively through the chain. It’s this approach to collaborative decarbonisation, underpinned by a common standard to drive competition, that will accelerate the pace of change to Net Zero.”

Andrew Opie, Director of Food & Sustainability at the BRC, said: “By bringing food retailers and suppliers together under a single unified approach to carbon footprinting, the BRC Mondra coalition has the potential to help businesses make more sustainable decisions surrounding how food is made, packaged, transported and sold in the UK and beyond. The retail industry is committed to reaching Net Zero by 2040 but this will only be possible through meaningful change in Scope 3 emissions. The BRC Mondra Coalition is a significant step towards being able to measure these emissions and, consequently, finding the most effective ways of reducing them.”

The BRC Mondra Coalition continues to onboard new industry participants from across the food value chain, whilst continuing the push to bring relevant industry bodies and farm level data solution providers together, under a unified vision for product level data sharing to facilitate the measurement of progress towards the achievement of robust sustainability benefits.

 

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