More than a third of the UK’s produce is now Leaf Marque-certified, guaranteeing it comes from an environmentally sustainable farm.
The percentage of UK grown produce matching Leaf standards hit 36% this year, according to LEAF’s annual Global Impact Report unveiled last week, up from 25% in 2015. Figures were particularly high among some crops, with 95% of leeks grown in the UK LEAF-certified, while asparagus (91%), beetroot (88%) and lettuce (87%) followed.
Last year, the UK accounted for 81% of the 386,500 ha of Leaf-certified crops harvested, with Spain and France coming in second and third respectively. Egypt led the way outside Europe, coming fourth of 34 countries that had 1,032 LEAF assured businesses operating on six continents.
The most common crops remained cereals, with three times more Leaf-certified wheat harvested than any other crop, while barley came in second place. They were followed by potatoes, oilseed rape and lettuce, while curry leaves, bilberries, macadamia and pulses were grown to LEAF standards for the first time.
The LEAF Marque is an environmental assurance scheme recognising sustainably farmed products, considering areas including pollution control, crop health, animal welfare and conservation. It works with brands and retailers including Waitrose, M&S, Florette and Jordans. Waitrose has committed to having all its UK-grown fresh produce LEAF-approved.
“We are delighted with the progress we have made and are seeing some real and lasting change in the resilience, productivity and health of farmland across the globe delivering public goods,” said LEAF CEO Caroline Drummond.
“Our Global Impacts Report demonstrates how a credible, market-based, independent, science and evidence-based assurance system like LEAF Marque can help drive forward strong connections between farmers, consumers and the wider supply chain.”