McCain Foods and Natwest join forces to support growers’ sustainable practices
McCain Foods, the manufacturer of frozen potato products, and NatWest, the biggest bank for business and one of the largest for the UK farming sector, have come together with an exciting new offering to reduce financial barriers for potato farmers who are transitioning to sustainable agricultural practices.
Smart and sustainable farming is a key pillar of McCain’s commitment to make planet friendly food, anchored on its commitment to implement regenerative agriculture across 100% of its global potato acreage by 2030.
The transition to more sustainable farming practices often requires up-front investments in new equipment and practices from farmers, which can create a barrier to uptake. Through its asset finance arm Lombard, NatWest will be offering a first-of-its-kind initiative in the UK, which will see the bank offer additional financial support to McCain potato farmers. In addition, McCain has also committed to offering a contribution towards the interest payable for assets that support regenerative agriculture practices.
“Given the increasingly unpredictable climate, the shift towards regenerative agriculture practices is vital to futureproof the farming industry, and we want to support McCain potato farmers who are making the transition towards more sustainable operations. We know that switching to regenerative agriculture can come with financial implications, and this new partnership will be a part of the effort to alleviate those barriers,” said James Young, VP of Agriculture at McCain GB&I. “We are working with our growers, customers and key stakeholders to ensure the long-term viability of potato growing in the UK.”
Ian Burrow, head of agriculture, NatWest commented, “NatWest and Lombard are thrilled to be working with McCain to help their farmers invest in sustainable farming practices. Agriculture is a sector of paramount importance to the UK economy, and one which is at a turning point, facing higher costs, inflation and the daunting challenge of net zero.
“This partnership further enhances the aims and ambitions of the Sustainable Markets Initiative (SMI) taskforce, which NatWest is proud to be a part of, and we will continue to stand by farmers and work closely with influential partners, like McCain, to help drive change across the industry.”
Regenerative agriculture is an ecosystem-based approach to farming that aims to improve farmer resilience, yield and quality by restoring soil health, enhancing biodiversity and reducing the impact of synthetic inputs.
As part of its wider regenerative agriculture initiatives, McCain joined the Sustainable Markets Initiative (SMI) Agribusiness Task Force alongside a number of businesses and NGOs to further accelerate the scaling of greener practices in the farming industry worldwide, which have been hampered by high costs. McCain’s partnership with Lombard and Natwest is just one way in which it is helping to make regenerative agriculture economically viable for UK farmers. Other initiatives include grants for cover crop seed and fully funding soil health assessments, as well as offering free pollinator seed this spring.
McCain is working hard to ensure the long-term viability of potato growing in the UK, and has invested £50m since 2020. As part of this, in 2020, McCain launched the McCain Potato Farmer Pledge, a £25m investment designed to help ensure the long-term sustainability of British agriculture in the face of increasing climatic events such as droughts and floods. In addition to the partnership with NatWest, McCain is continuing to support farmers in the face of rising inflation by committing to a 31% contract indexation in 2023, which equals a £35m investment.
To enable knowledge transfer to its farmers, McCain is testing regenerative agriculture practices and trialing new technology at its Farms of the Future projects, located in McCain’s hometown of Florenceville, New Brunswick and in South Africa. This is supported in the UK by three demonstration farms across the country.