Waitrose has today unveiled plans for a new beef production facility at its farm on the Leckford Estate – which will further expand the broad range of products the site provides to customers all around the UK.
The new beef facility, which will replace the existing dairy unit, will help free up more land for crop production as well as create opportunities for Waitrose to trial a range of regenerative agriculture practices.
Over the next decade and as part of its 10 year Agriculture Strategy, Waitrose intends to share learnings gathered from these practices with all its sourcing partners. This will help Waitrose influence its farmers and producers on farming best practice, ensuring they farm with nature and in an environmentally friendly way.
Andrew Hoad, the Head of the Leckford Estate, comments: “Regenerative agriculture will be vital in our planet’s response to climate change and mixed arable and livestock farming is the key to unlocking the door.”
“Retaining cattle on the farm means providing a rich source of organic matter, which will improve soil quality and contribute to multiple benefits including greater biodiversity, improved water efficiency and increased biosequestration. Not only will this be good for the environment, it will be good for our customers too as we can ensure we continue to grow high quality crops and produce whilst using nature balanced solutions to encourage wildlife and benefit nature.”
James Bailey, Executive Director at Waitrose, comments: “We are the only supermarket to own our own farm and that gives us a unique opportunity to lead by example. Leckford is not only an important producer of our food, it is a test bed for best practice and farming innovation. Over the coming years, we will take those learnings to tweak our approach and share them with all our suppliers to ensure best practice across our whole supply chain.”
Like all Waitrose beef, the cattle produced at the Leckford Estate will spend a large proportion of the year outside and are free to roam, with all animals higher welfare compared to the industry standard. By expanding this facility in place of the existing dairy unit, which represents just 3% of Waitrose’s total milk production, additional crop land will also be created to help produce more flour and oil for Waitrose, which will be sold to its customers.
Waitrose has farmed on the Leckford Estate for over 90 years and is the only remaining supermarket in the UK to have its own farm. Similarly, it is the only supermarket to sell produce that has been grown, picked and packed directly from its own farm – including mushrooms, apples, pears, cider, sparkling wine, apple juice and flour.
The Leckford Estate was the vision of Spedan Lewis – the Founder of John Lewis, who had extensive knowledge of botany, entomology, aquaculture and horticulture. As was Spedan’s mandate, the Leckford Estate dedicates 25% of its land to natural wildlife. It also continues to be a test bed for the latest farming innovations – such as its partnership with the Small Robot Company – to find agricultural solutions that work in cohesion with nature.