Marks and Spencer is to ask its overseas suppliers to sign up to use the Leaf environmental standards assurance scheme.

M&S sustainable development manager Mike Barry said M&S wanted suppliers to follow Leaf’s environmental criteria.

“We as a business are looking to use the Leaf mark extensively and are encouraging overseas suppliers to use the new Leaf audit system.”

Unilever also backed Leaf as the assurance scheme launched a new web-based system for
auditing its members’ farms this week. Unilever sustainable agriculture manager Liz Chadd said its pea crops were currently grown to Leaf standards in the UK.

She said: “We believe that Leaf is a vitally important part of our business. In the future we will be looking at growing all other crops to Leaf standards.”

Leaf - Linking Environment and Farming - demands green production methods which include minimal chemical and fertiliser use, good husbandry and animal welfare, enhancement of wildlife habitats, efficient soil management and crop rotation. The scheme includes a food assurance logo.

The new updated audit system will allow farmers to benchmark their green credentials against other farmers, or against their own past performance.