Dairy cows

Marks & Spencer is investing £1m in changing the diet of milk-producing cows to cut the amount of methane they release into the atmosphere.

The change is projected to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions produced by the herds of 40 M&S dairy farmers by 11,000 tonnes annually.

It will cut M&S’s RSPCA-assured core fresh milk carbon footprint by 8.4% without compromising on taste or quality, according to the retailer.

The measure is part of M&S’s ‘Plan A’ strategy to become a net zero business across all its operations and entire value chain by 2040.

Writing about it for The Grocer, M&S CEO Stuart Machin said: “One of the most exciting [projects] is a first-to-market new feed supplement for the cows in our milk pool, which will cut the carbon footprint of our fresh milk by 8.4%.

“This means customers will now be able to pick up M&S milk in our stores, and from Ocado, in the knowledge that not only has it been produced to the highest possible animal welfare standards, but is also a more positive choice for the environment.”

M&S is also working with suppliers to step up action towards net zero using a £1m ‘Plan A accelerator fund’, which has paid for eight projects so far this year.

Machin said: “As I think about the climate challenges ahead, I see an opportunity to combine the good work we already do on sustainability with our unique supplier relationships and our obsession with quality and innovation, to innovate our way to net zero.”

Meanwhile, projects underway in stores include trialling the use of AI to predict optimal heating, ventilation and air conditioning to cut energy consumption. Trialled across six stores, the aim is to reduce costs by up to 30%. Rolled out across the estate, it could save an estimated 2,000 tonnes of carbon and around £3m annually, according to M&S.