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Colman’s at Groundswell: Embedding regenerative agriculture principles across the supply chain


Last week, on a warm and sunny day in Hertfordshire, our iconic condiments brand Colman’s pitched up their tent at Groundswell – the festival to be at for all things regenerative agriculture and farming.

An image of some Colman's mustard packaging

Earlier this year, we launched our first regenerative agriculture project in the UK, working with the farms that grow the mustard seeds and mint leaves used in Colman’s products. The project is initially trialling the application of regenerative agriculture practices across mustard and mint farms around Norwich and Peterborough over four years, including mustard farms which have supplied Colman’s products for over 200 years.

Groundswell, now in its eighth year, provides an important forum for farmers and anyone interested in food production or the environment to learn about the theory and practical applications of regenerative systems, including no-till, cover crops, and re-introducing livestock into the arable rotation, all with the view to improving soil health. It’s a show for anyone who wants to understand the farmer’s core asset - the soil. Over two days, at Lannock Manor Farm, there are talks, forums and discussions from leading international soil health experts, experienced arable and livestock farmers, and agriculture policy experts.

Groundswell Grounds image

Members of our Colman’s and Unilever Plant Scientist team chatted to attendees across the two days at the Colman’s tent, sharing the work that’s going on at the farms taking part in the mustard and mint trial, and hearing different perspectives from across the farming community about what needs to happen in order to scale the transition to regenerative agriculture.

Joining the team at the event was Dorothy Shaver, Global Food Sustainability Director at Unilever, who is passionate about driving change for positive environmental outcomes. At Unilever, we have nine regenerative agriculture projects globally, including tomatoes in Spain, and rice and soy in the US. These projects have shown promising results – for example, in 2022 our tomatoes project in the Badajoz region saw a 37% decrease in GHG emissions per kg tomatoes compared to GHG emissions before the project.

Panel image with TV

In a packed out tent at Groundswell, Dorothy sat alongside other panellists from a UK retailer, a mustard farmer and a soil specialist from our technical partner, NIAB. They discussed how regenerative agriculture principles can be embedded across the supply chain, from the farmer all the way to the shopper, and what needs to happen to scale this transition. The panel discussion was full of important questions and discussion, touching on the importance of evidence and measurement, risk management, policy advocacy, and how our brands can link quality to how a product and its’ ingredients are made.

The cross-supply chain panel discussed at length the need for a systematic shift to regenerative agriculture, and how this requires participation across the whole supply chain, from farmers, agronomists, policy-makers, manufacturers and retailers, all the while bringing our shoppers with us. Ultimately, how can we re-engineer our supply chains and embed regenerative agriculture principles within it?

Panel image

Unilever globally has a goal of implementing Regenerative Agriculture practices on 1 million hectares of agricultural land by 2030. It’s a critical part of our sustainability strategy, as raw ingredients account for more than half of Unilever’s carbon footprint. And not only is it critical to us reaching Net Zero as a business, but it’s also critical to securing the longevity and security of the supply chain.

We’re helping to accelerate and scale this change through our Climate & Nature Fund - Launched in 2020, our Climate & Nature Fund is a commitment to invest €1 billion by 2030 in meaningful climate, nature, and resource efficiency projects, to transform the way our products are made and reach end of life.

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