Upmarket UK retailer Waitrose & Partners has announced plans to open a new beef production facility at its farm on the Leckford Estate.
The new facility will replace the existing dairy unit, which accounts for just 3% of Waitrose’s total milk production, and help the retailer to expand its red meat offering.
Cattle rearing at the Leckford Estate follows high animal welfare standards, with free-to-roam livestock spending a large proportion of the year outside.
The move will also free up more land for crop production and create opportunities for Waitrose to trial a range of regenerative agriculture practices.
The retailer will use the land to produce crops that yield more flour and oil.
Andrew Hoad, head of the Leckford Estate, commented, “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, but it will also be good for our customers as we continue to grow high-quality crops and produce while using nature balanced solutions to encourage wildlife and benefit nature.”
The retailer claims to be the only UK supermarket to have its own farm and has operated on the Leckford Estate for over 90 years.
It sells produce grown, picked and packed directly from the farm, and the offering includes mushrooms, apples, pears, cider, sparkling wine, apple juice and flour.
'Testbed For Best Practice'
James Bailey, executive director at Waitrose, added, “Leckford is not only an important producer of our food, but it is also a testbed 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.”
The estate was the vision of John Lewis founder, Spedan Lewis, who had extensive knowledge of botany, entomology, aquaculture and horticulture.
Leckford Estate dedicates 25% of its land to natural wildlife and continues to be a testbed for the latest farming innovations, the retailer added.
© 2021 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Dayeeta Das. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.