More than 300 UK farmers growing Quaker Oats in the UK are to become Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF) Marque certified by the end of 2023.
The announcement, just days before the COP26 negotiations in Glasgow, are a major boost to Scottish arable farmers. More than 75% of the 300 producers are within a 100-mile radius of the Quaker plant at Cupar Mill, Fife, Scotland.
LEAF and Quaker share a commitment to helping farmers reduce their environmental impact through championing more sustainable, regenerative farming practices in the UK.
LEAF Marque is an environmental assurance scheme which requires producers to take a rigorous approach to delivering more sustainable farming, including enhanced biodiversity, soil fertility, water and air quality, alongside the production of quality food, such as oats.
As part of the deal, PepsiCo and LEAF will provide Quaker farmers with additional tools and support as they work towards becoming LEAF Marque-certified. This will help them embrace a more circular agriculture and put health and sustainability at the heart of their operations.
PepsiCo has been involved in supporting healthier and more sustainable oat harvest for the past few years. It launched an Oat Growth Guide in 2019 as part of its Opti-Oat Crop Intelligence Programme, which uses more than 1 million data points to provide growers with information to help optimise resources and improve yield, meaning more oats per hectare and a higher quality, sustainable product for consumers.
Caroline Drummond, LEAF chief executive officer, welcomed the support: “With COP26 bringing the crucial issue of tackling climate change into focus, farmers can play a key role in translating global and national ambitions into meaningful change on the ground.
“LEAF and Quaker share a commitment to helping farmers reduce their environmental impact through championing more sustainable, regenerative farming practices in the UK. By working together, we have a significant opportunity to deliver more sustainably-grown oats to consumers, while the industry plays its part towards reaching net zero and enhancing biodiversity.”
Matt Waldie, a 4th generation farmer, who manages Gilston Mains, a LEAF-accredited farm in Fife, Scotland, has been growing oats for the past decade.
“Growing Quaker Oats has always been a perfect match for our farm. The grain fits well into our crop rotation, and working with a local partner, only 6 miles away, means our crops barely have to travel before they are turned into the oats people enjoy every day.
“It’s fantastic that all Quaker Oats growers are now being given funding and support to optimise their production, while also protecting the soil and natural environment for future generations.”
Archana Jagannathan, PepsiCo senior director of sustainability, said the company was working to innovate and optimise the ways its crops were being grown to save water, reduce carbon e missions and improve soil health.
“It’s an expansion of our existing efforts to embrace and pioneer regenerative British oat growing with our Quaker farming partners, supporting them to produce the best quality oats while protecting the earth.”
The move forms part of pep+, PepsiCo’s new strategy that puts sustainability at the heart of its business. It wants to spread regenerative practices across land equal to the company’s entire agricultural global footprint (approximately 7m acres).
The LEAF Marque logo is set to appear on packs of Quaker Oats from 2023.