Regenerative farming: supermarkets ramp up their support for British farmers

Supermarkets are joining forces with British farmers to help bolster efforts towards regenerative farming. It comes in the wake of findings that Britain is amongst the most nature-depleted nations on the planet.
May 21, 2024

Supermarkets look to support British farmers in adopting regenerative practices

The growing list of supermarket activity to support British farmers in switching to regenerative farming methods continues, with the recent announcement of a new partnership between Ocado and the Soil Association which will result in five ‘nature-friendly’ demonstration farms. 

The farms will each focus on a particular area - either dairy, beef, sheep, orchard fruit, or potatoes - and will offer training session for other farmers to provide support as well as the sharing of technical expertise to those in attendance.

Training sessions will cover a range of topics including agroforestry, which combines trees with livestock and crops to offer shade and protection from floods and drought. Also covered will be the restoration of hedgerows to encourage natural predators reducing need for harmful pesticides, as well as more diverse crop rotation to include alternatives such as legumes like peas, beans and clovers, which boost soil health and restore nitrogen naturally, therefore reducing the need for artificial fertilisers.

Ocado Retail’s CEO, Hannah Gibson, said: “Supporting local farmers and promoting homegrown produce is something we care deeply about at Ocado. Earlier this year, we launched a Best of British aisle on site to make it easier for our customers to shop for food that’s farmed and produced in the UK. Our new partnership with the Soil Association reinforces our commitment and, by working with farmers who are pioneering agroecological farming practices, we’re increasing the quality, freshness and sustainability of the food we’re able to offer our customers.”[i]

The scheme is part of a wider partnership between Ocado and the Soil Association which also includes work on a ‘Farm to Fork Ambassadors programme’ which will encourage those providing healthy and sustainable food to share their stories and experiences with others in the industry.

Waitrose seeks to expand on learnings from its regenerative farming trials, whilst new research highlights the plight of biodiversity in Britain

Ocado’s announcement follows recent news of a planned expansion of Waitrose’s regenerative agriculture programme. Underway since 2020, Waitrose has been conducting regenerative agriculture trials at its Hampshire-based Leckford Estate farm, with these forming a crucial component of the businesses wider

‘Plan for nature’ strategy, launched by Waitrose’s parent company John Lewis Partnership back in 2022[ii].

In their latest expansion, labelled ‘Farming for Nature’, Waitrose will help more than 2,000 of its farmers move to nature-friendly farming practices, adopting methods which improve biodiversity and soil health[iii]. Further, Waitrose will:

·         Develop plans for farmers to access affordable finance and provide resources to support their transition to regenerative and low carbon farming.

·         Provide a market for regeneratively produced food in Waitrose shops and online.

·         Have a permanent Centre of Excellence at their Leckford farm, providing practical tools, workshops, online resources and mentoring to help farmers to make the shift to regenerative agriculture.

·         Work with a group of farmers to develop understanding of regenerative practices across different supply chains, tailored to farming types and then scale these into supply chains.

·         Complete a ‘state of nature’ assessment by 2026 of all Waitrose own brand UK farms and create land management plans so farmers and growers can improve priority habitats and support thriving biodiversity.

·         Undertake field trials and new innovative practices at Waitrose’s Leckford farm, which will help inform its approach to regenerative practices in its supply chains[iv].

Earlier this year, WWF called on both the UK Government and businesses to deliver an “all hands-on-deck” approach to regenerative agriculture, with the charity believing that such practices could create a unified response to the challenge of climate and nature breakdown, as well as food security. 

Failure to tackle the issue poses notable financial implications too, with The Green Finance Institute recently reporting that deterioration of the natural environment could result in a staggering 12% loss to UK GDP. Last years ‘State of Nature’ report found that one in six species are at risk of extinction from Great Britain, with an average 19% decline in the species studied by the researchers since monitoring first began in 1970[v]. It follows earlier findings which named the UK as one of the worlds most nature-depleted countries, sitting in the bottom 10% globally for biodiversity.


[i] Ocado Retail and Soil Association to establish five nature-friendly demo farms | Retail Bulletin (

[ii] John Lewis Partnership wants to significantly reduce its impact on the environment, reveals its ‘plan for nature’ (

[iii] Waitrose Media Centre | Waitrose unveils plans to accelerate nature-friendly farming for British farmers. (

[iv] Ibid

[v] State of Nature 2023 - report on the UK’s current biodiversity

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Lauren Foye
Head of Reports

Lauren has extensive experience as an analyst and market researcher in the digital technology and travel sectors. She has a background in researching and forecasting emerging technologies, with a particular passion for the Videogames and eSports industries. She joined the Critical Information Group as Head of Reports and Market Research at GRC World Forums, and leads the content and data research team at the Zero Carbon Academy. “What drew me to the academy is the opportunity to add content and commentary around sustainability across a wealth of industries and sectors.”

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