An increasing number of farmers and growers using sustainable farming methods have asked for support from the supply chain to sell their story.
The call came following the Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF) Marque Summit, where delegates confirmed a leap in environmentally friendly produce, but questioned why retailers were failing to communicate with the consumer.
They suggested supermarkets should be in talks with their customers to advocate the sector’s work and achieve a common goal of available, healthy, sustainable food.
Speaking at the event, one delegate said: “Why do all supermarkets not use LEAF to communicate what sustainable farming is all about? Retailers are letting us down in getting the message to consumers.”
Tor Harris, head of sustainability and responsible sourcing at Waitrose, said the retailer was keen to promote sustainable agriculture, but added assurance schemes need to raise awareness with consumers, push for higher standards, measure impacts and understand opportunities from increased transparency.
LEAF chief executive Caroline Drummond said: “We have a real opportunity to be a catalyst for change and secure the UK’s position as a global leader when it comes to sustainable farming.
“Food is the new rock and roll, and we need to maximise public interest in it.”
The LEAF Global Impacts report highlighted the number of farmers with a LEAF Marque certified business had jumped to 1,032 in 34 countries, with crop areas expanding more than 19,000ha (46,950 acres) in the past 12 months.
Of the 81 per cent of produce from the the UK, 51 per cent was cereal and 43 per cent horticulture.
Other environmental efforts, such as soil protection (40 per cent), renewable energy (44 per cent) and waste management (51 per cent) were commended alongside biodiversity, biosecurity and conservation practices.