Tesco boss urges Government to stand by net zero commitments

Posted: 8 September 2023 | | No comments yet

The CEO of Tesco, Ken Murphy, has called on political parties to stand by net zero commitments and to back green innovation.


The CEO of supermarket giant Tesco, Ken Murphy, has urged UK Government to stand by its net zero commitments and to support businesses by giving them the confidence to invest in green innovation.

The plea came after Murphy revealed the “rapid” expansion of one of Tesco’s key agricultural innovation initiatives, something the retailer claims to be the “largest commercial field trial of low-carbon fertilisers in the UK”.

At the Reuters IMPACT event in London, England, the CEO explained that he believes green innovation in the food industry “could be transformational in helping to cut costs and carbon, protect food security and stimulate green growth”.

However, Murphy went on to highlight that levels of investment in the UK “remain well below the OECD average” and that he thinks the UK Government and industry “must work together to enable and unlock large-scale innovation”.

“As we work to protect customers and suppliers from rising costs today, we must also do all we can to safeguard the shopping basket from shocks tomorrow. That means building a more resilient, sustainable and productive food system. One that guarantees customers a long-term supply of quality, affordable food as well as improving the economy and world they live in,” said Murphy.

Tesco has said that it is “committed to turning no stone unturned” when it comes to championing and scaling its innovation. In fact, Murphy revealed that Tesco is set to expand its trial of low-carbon, “mostly domestically produced” fertilisers, and will be partnering with its suppliers “to drive a tenfold increase in the number of hectares being cultivated by low-carbon alternatives for the 2024 growing season”.

In addition, the supermarket giant has committed to sharing its findings to allow other food businesses to “learn and benefit”.  

“Innovations like low-carbon fertiliser are part of the solution. As the early results show, they have huge potential to cut greenhouse gas emissions, enhance soil health and water quality, as well as providing greater cost certainty for farmers and create industry here in the UK – which is why I am so pleased with our plans to scale up usage next year. But to realise the full benefits, we need to see action beyond our supply chain, too,” continued Murphy.

“We’ll only get there through cross-industry and cross-party collaboration. We all need to drive towards the same goal, and be better at sharing learnings and resources on the way. The food industry is willing to invest, but needs more stability and confidence when it comes to future policy. That is why it’s critical that all parties, regardless of political creed, stand by their Net Zero commitments and timelines.”

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Tesco has said that, during the first year of the trial, 1,300 hectares of land were cultivated using eight different low-carbon fertilisers. Of which, six fertilisers were manufactured in the UK from material including food waste, chicken litter, fire extinguisher waste and algae. In turn, a reported 70,000 tonnes of produce was generated, including lettuces, carrots and potatoes for Tesco customers.

“Initial results found they were just as effective as conventional fertilisers and cut emissions by up to 50 percent,” claimed the retailer.

Looking to the near future, Tesco has revealed plans to increase the trial to 13,000 hectares next year. In addition, the retailer has plans to roll out the initiative to more of its Sustainable Farming Groups, including those who manage pasture and forage-based systems for rearing livestock.

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