Co-op Group launches pilot scheme to reward sustainable beef farmers

The joint project with supplier Dunbia will help the retailer monitor the impact of sustainable farming practices in its supply chain

The Co-op Group has announced a pilot scheme to financially reward farmers in its beef supply chain for sustainable farming practices.

In partnership with its supplier Dunbia, the retailer has outlined plans to rapidly decarbonise its supply chain in a new Beef Sustainability Pilot, which will see farmers rewarded for reducing their impact on the environment.

The Group says the two-year programme will enable it to monitor the impact of integrating sustainable farming practices within its beef supply base. It will also help to provide accurate emissions data and inform actions on an integral part of the Group’s plans to be net zero by 2040.

Sustainability is high on the agenda for the agriculture industry, with producers under pressure from consumers and policymakers to cut emissions. Last year several agri co-ops backed a new global framework on regenerative agriculture, and co-ops like Arla and First Milk have set out measures for working towards net zero.

The issue was also the main talking point at the recent conference of Scottish agri-co-ops apex SAOS.

Under the Group’s scheme, farmers in the pilot group, representing around 10% of the retailer’s beef supply chain, will be supported throughout the programme and have access to a bespoke emission reduction plan, the Group adds. It says farmers will receive a sustainability dividend linked to the level of reductions achieved over the course of the programme.


Joseph Keating, the Group’s agriculture manager, said: “Recognising and rewarding farmers who are leading the way and making positive changes to reduce their carbon footprint is important in developing a more resilient and sustainable agriculture industry, so we’re thrilled to announce our new Beef Sustainability Pilot at Co-op alongside Dunbia.

“As a responsible retailer, we continue to lead on the issues that matter most to our member owners and customers, and supporting British farmers on their collective sustainability journey is at the very heart of this. We know that by investing in British agriculture, we are investing in the UK economy, supporting farming communities and meeting our members concerns for food provenance.”

Farmers will look to integrate different farming practises to lower carbon emissions, the Group says. As each farm is different, farmers will implement the options that have been recommended as part of their individual emissions reduction plan.

Throughout the programme, Dunbia will share knowledge and best practice, raise awareness and offer support to farmers seeking to reduce their on-farm emissions. Once completed, the results of the pilot will be used to help shape future sustainability plans at the Group.