LEAF Board member, Richard Whitlock provides an overview of last week’s LEAF Marque Summit which brought together the food industry, farmers, policy makers and scientists to explore whether the food chain is doing enough to market its own sustainability achievements and aspirations…
The LEAF Marque Summit hosted by Marks and Spencers, featured the launch of LEAF’s fifth Global Impacts Report, ‘Delivering More Sustainable Food and Farming‘. Once again, the growth in impact and awareness of the LEAF brand was recognised by the food industry, global growers and consumers, with some of the highlighted statistics being 367, 395 hectares of crop worldwide on LEAF Marque Certified businesses in 36 countries, 34% of all UK fruit and vegetables are grown by LEAF Marque certified businesses and 261,000 visitors to farms for Open Farm Sunday 2016.
In her opening remarks, Caroline Drummond, Chief Executive of LEAF, highlighted the increasing importance of public engagement, customer focus, knowledge implementation on farms, increased farm sustainability and accountability. Kathryn Green, LEAF Sustainability Manager, gave more details of the Global Impacts Report.
The key note speaker for the day was the well-known environmental campaigner, Jonathon Porritt. Speaking largely off-the-cuff, Jonathan impressed the delegates with his insightful, experienced and passionate values on the future of food production and conservation of the planet, while accepting the need to feed an ever growing, more affluent world population.
It is always good to hear from a practical farming proponent. We were honoured to receive an engaging and real-world insight from Simon Day of Worth Farms Ltd, a LEAF Demonstration Farm, who combine large-scale, intensive food production, with care for the biodiversity of their environment, measuring and lowering their carbon footprint and recycling waste, while continuing to increase output and improve quality.
Presentations were received from Emma Keller of WWF-UK and Tallulah Chapman of the Forest Stewardship Council. Both these organisations are active in increasing awareness and implementation of sustainable sourcing, with the importance of brand recognition and consumer differentiation being highlighted. Some key takeaway points from these papers were the hidden cost of cheap supplies and the convenience of consumers not wishing to understand more.
Emmanuelle Hopkinson, representing our hosts, Marks and Spencer, enlightened us on the sustainability sourcing activity in their supply chain. Marks and Spencer have an ambition to be the world’s most sustainable major retailer and Emmanuelle shared with us some of the successes and challenges they have encountered so far. M&S now recognise LEAF Marque as an approved Plan A provider of fresh produce production systems.
Finally, Quentin Clark, Director Business Collaboration at LEAF, gave a brief update on commercial progress with expanding the LEAF Marque brand across continents, farms, food brands and retailers.
Delivering More Sustainable Food and Farming: LEAF’s Global Impacts Report 2017, is available here. Please take a few minutes to complete our on-line evaluation questionnaire here. Your feedback is extremely valuable to us and will help us improve future editions as well as build upon our monitoring and evaluation activities.
Speaker presentations, photographs and commentary from this year’s LEAF Marque Summit are available here