BUDGET RETAILER Lidl has announced that it will be taking the environmental standards of its fresh produce suppliers to 'the next level of sustainability excellence' by signing up to the LEAF Marque environmental assurance scheme.

The move will see the supermarket's entire British fresh produce supplier base achieving LEAF Marque certification by the end of 2023.

LEAF Marque assurance is run by global farming organisation LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming), with certified businesses currently operating in 21 countries worldwide. To get that certification, they must implement regenerative farming practices, reduce carbon emissions through greater energy efficiency, and enhance biodiversity and nature conservation.

Lidl GB’s head of responsible sourcing, Amali Bunter, said: “New patterns of production and consumption are emerging across Great Britain, reflecting global geopolitical uncertainty, resource availability and consumer preferences. As a leading food retailer, we recognise the demand we place on our agricultural resources and the influence we have on our suppliers’ practices.

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“Together with our valued suppliers, we look forward to working hard and smart to deliver tangible action to continually improve environmental standards throughout our value chain.”

LEAF CEO, Caroline Drummond, added: “LEAF Marque certification is one of the most effective frameworks for accelerating incremental improvements at an individual farm level, which collectively are driving profound reforms in more climate positive food production across the globe.

“Some 45% of UK produced fruit and vegetables are already grown on LEAF Marque certified businesses and we have made a public commitment to almost doubling this over the next five years. It is fantastic to see Lidl committing to LEAF Marque across its entire UK fresh produce supply chain and it brings us a step closer to achieving this ambition. This bold, concrete action being taken by Lidl sends a very clear message of leadership, determination, and vision. We will work at speed and at scale to make change happen.”