Leadsom praises PepsiCo growers' halving of water and carbon use

PepsiCo UK & Ireland says that over the last five years it has halved the amount of water and carbon used to grow potatoes for its Walkers Crisps in water-stressed areas.

Gavin Janaway holding I-crop probe - image: PepsiCo
Gavin Janaway holding I-crop probe - image: PepsiCo

are now equipped to grow more British potatoes whilst using less water and emitting less carbon.

PepsiCo collaborated with academics and technology suppliers as well as the roughly 100 British farmers growing potatoes for the brand to introduce innovative farming techniques that use energy and water more efficiently.

This has included the iCrop tool, developed with Cambridge University, which allows farmers to precisely measure soil moisture levels with probes and weather stations installed in their fields, helping them to judge how much water to use on crops.

The Cool Farm Tool, a digital carbon calculator created by University of Aberdeen, meanwhile measures the Carbon (Co2e) per tonne of raw potatoes, enabling farmers to easily understand their carbon emissions and so pursue different strategies to limit their impact on the environment.

PepsiCo European senior director of agriculture David Wilkinson said: "We buy 340,000 tonnes of potatoes a year in the UK, so have a real stake in trying to make the process of growing potatoes as sustainable as possible.

"We’re very proud to have met our ’50 in 5’ target working in partnership with British farmers. This programme really demonstrates how businesses can work across the supply chain to minimise impact on the environment. The work doesn’t stop here – we’re continuing to explore with our growers new ways to reduce carbon and water usage and use resources more efficiently."

Hampshire grower Gavin Janaway, has been growing potatoes for Walkers for almost 40 years, said: "As farmers across the UK are challenged by more frequent extremities of weather and increasingly scarce resources, it is now more important than ever for farms to be more sustainable."

Launched in October 2010, PepsiCo's 50 in 5 programme for its UK potato operation also committed to using low-carbon fertilisers and varieties with higher yields and less wastage.

Defra secretary Andrea Leadsom said: "The 50 in 5 project is a great example of British talent creating innovative, pioneering technology that is now transforming agriculture both in the UK and beyond.

"This is exactly the sort of creativity and commitment to sustainability we want to see to help our thriving food and farming sector continue to go from strength to strength, while also realising our pledge to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better condition than we found it."

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