Improving soil health becomes a top priority for Kruiningen, Netherlands-headquartered Lamb Weston/Meijer (LW/M). The manufacturer of frozen potato products is intensifying collaboration with the 600 growers in Europe that supply it spuds for processing, as detailed in the newly issued Sustainability Report 2017-2018.
Last year the company added ‘sustainable agriculture’ to its existing six focus areas for sustainability. Close collaboration with growers is key to its Sustainable Agriculture Plan. To date, the plan has been rolled out to 200 Dutch growers and in the next few years LW/M is going to actively involve its other 400 growers in the UK, Belgium, France, Germany and Austria.
Soil health lies at the heart of the company’s Sustainable Agriculture Plan, as soil is the most valuable natural resource that growers use. Other relevant topics linked to soil health are water, greenhouse gas emissions, plant protection products and biodiversity. Lamb Weston/Meijer developed key performance indicators for all of these topics, to measure the impact, compare results of individual growers and most important to enable growers to learn from each other.
“Declining soil health is a major issue,” said Bas Alblas, the company’s chief executive officer. “It is absolutely vital that we tackle this. The biggest impact we can have is by working more closely with our farmers.”
To assess soil health, LW/M is going to score its growers by the key measures they use to improve soil health. These measures include the crop rotation cycle, planting rest crops and a positive organic matter balance. Based on the total points scored, growers will receive a soil label score ranging from “basic” to “expert.”
Dealing with Drought
Lamb Weston/Meijer feels obliged to support farmers in dealing with the effect of climate change. In 2018 growers had to deal with excessive drought. This underpins the importance of the company’s close collaboration with farmers. Healthy soils support the natural water holding capacity. Combined with water-efficient irrigation such as drip irrigation, growers protect both crop quality and the ground water level.
To measure greenhouse gas emissions, LW/M uses the “Cool Farm Tool,” and to assess the impact of plant protection products they use the “CLM Pesticide Yardstick.” Both are known and accepted tools to gauge environmental impact.
‘Sustainable Seven’ Achievements
Water belongs to Lamb Weston/Meijer’s “Sustainable Seven,” which are the seven pillars of its sustainability strategy. Up to 2018 water use per ton of finished product was reduced by 3.8%, compared to 2008.
The energy intensity was cut by 24%, with a 30% lower CO2 emission intensity from processing. Its annual road kilometers to ship products to customers was reduced by 6.5 million, leading to nearly 9% less CO2 emission from transport. Their product carbon footprint from processing was cut by 20.4% compared to 2008, leading to a 20% smaller carbon footprint from field to fork in the past 10 years.
From a circular point of view, LW/M achieved that 97.3% of its byproducts and waste streams are reused, recycled or recovered, and products are packed in recyclable plastic.
If you want to learn more about Lamb Weston/Meijer’s achievements so far, and how objectives will be developed towards 2030, click here to view the company’s full online Sustainability Report 2017-2018, or download a summary report.