Ken Murphy, the CEO of Tesco, has urged political leaders to uphold their commitments to achieving net zero emissions, stating that such commitments are crucial for encouraging corporate investment in sustainable practices. Murphy made these remarks at the Reuters Impact event held in London.
He emphasised the transformative potential of eco-friendly innovations in the food sector, not only for reducing carbon emissions and costs but also for bolstering food security and fostering green economic growth. However, Murphy cautioned that both the government and the private sector need to intensify their collaborative efforts, especially as the UK's climate-related investments lag behind the average of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations.
In line with this, Murphy revealed Tesco's plans to broaden its pilot programme for low-carbon fertilisers within the UK. The supermarket giant aims to collaborate with its suppliers to achieve a tenfold increase in the land area cultivated using low-carbon alternatives by the 2024 growing season. Tesco has also pledged to share these findings with other companies.
Murphy highlighted the financial advantages of such initiatives for British farmers, who have been grappling with skyrocketing fertiliser costs—increasing by up to 140% last year—largely due to the conflict in Ukraine.
"As we strive to shield both consumers and suppliers from the immediate impact of rising costs, we must also take proactive steps to make our food supply chain more resilient and sustainable for the future. This involves ensuring a long-term supply of high-quality, affordable food while also enhancing the broader economic and environmental landscape," Murphy stated.
He concluded by saying that innovations like low-carbon fertilisers are a part of the solution. Preliminary results from Tesco's trials indicate significant promise in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving soil and water quality, and offering cost stability for farmers. "However, to fully realise these benefits, actions must extend beyond our immediate supply chain," he added.