Crisp manufacturer halves water and carbon use on farms

PepsiCo UK & Ireland has announced it has halved the amount of water and carbon used to grow potatoes for Walkers Crisps in water stressed areas as part of its

PepsiCo UK & Ireland has announced it has halved the amount of water and carbon used to grow potatoes for Walkers Crisps in water stressed areas as part of its ‘50 in 5’ commitments, launched in 2010. Around 100 British farmers growing potatoes for the company’s brand are now equipped to grow more British potatoes while using less water and emitting less carbon.

PepsiCo collaborated with world leading academics and applied state of the art technology to introduce innovative farming techniques that use energy and water more efficiently. This included:

iCrop: Developed with Cambridge University, iCrop allows farmers to precisely measure soil moisture levels with probes and weather stations installed in their fields. It provides the information they need to judge exactly how much water to use on crops, reducing wastage, saving money, and producing more “crop per drop.” It also helps farmers adapt to precipitation and temperature changes by delivering just the right amounts of water and fertilizers at the right times.

Cool Farm Tool: A digital carbon calculator created by University of Aberdeen, measuring the Carbon (Co2e) per tonne raw potato. This has enabled farmers to easily understand their carbon emissions and to model different scenarios and strategies to limit their impact on the environment.

David Wilkinson, European Senior Director of Agriculture of PepsiCo, said: “We buy 340,000 tonnes of potatoes a year in the UK, so have a real stake in trying to make the process of growing potatoes as sustainable as possible. We’re very proud to have met our ’50 in 5’ target working in partnership with British farmers. This programme really demonstrates how businesses can work across the supply chain to minimise impact on the environment. The work doesn’t stop here – we’re continuing to explore with our growers new ways to reduce carbon and water usage and use resources more efficiently.”

Hampshire grower at Whitewater Farm, Gavin Janaway, has been growing potatoes for Walkers for almost 40 years, a relationship that began with his father.

He said: “This programme has enabled us to use technology to tackle the impact of climate change. As farmers across the UK are challenged by more frequent extremities of weather and increasingly scarce resources, it is now more important than ever for farms to be more sustainable. It is the responsibility of all stakeholders in the supply chain to care for the environment and working in partnership is the way forward for sustainable farming.  This initiative has been crucial in helping us achieve that, reducing our water and carbon, and improving our yields.”

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, The Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP commented: “The 50 in 5 project is a great example of British talent creating innovative, pioneering technology that is now transforming agriculture both in the UK and beyond. This is exactly the sort of creativity and commitment to sustainability we want to see to help our thriving food and farming sector continue to go from strength to strength, while also realising our pledge to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better condition than we found it.

“Whether that’s reducing pesticide use or irrigating more efficiently, these innovations prove that a healthy environment and great tasting products can and do go hand in hand.”

Potato facts

  • Agriculture accounts for around 70% of global freshwater withdrawals
  • In 2030, 47% of the world population will be living in areas of high water stress
  • PepsiCo buys over 1.4 million tonnes of potatoes each year in Europe
  • PepsiCo works with over 2,500 farmers across Europe

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