Waitrose plans to source commodity crop ingredients, such as wheat and rapeseed oil, from farmers accredited with the LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) Marque.
Waitrose already sources all of its UK fruit and vegetables from farms approved by the scheme, which recognises sustainably farmed products and is based on LEAF’s Integrated Farm Management (IFM) principles.
Waitrose’s farm on the Leckford Estate is also part of the scheme, which has 487 LEAF Marque farmers in the UK and 580 in another 36 countries.
Jeremy Boxall, director of LEAF Marque, said: "We’ve worked with Waitrose for many years now and this commitment to sourcing more LEAF Marque certified commodity crop ingredients provides an excellent market opportunity for our farmers.
"It also offers a clear incentive for other wheat and oilseed rape farmers in the UK to consider LEAF Marque certification. It’s becoming increasingly important for food businesses and retailers to ensure and demonstrate that they are sourcing responsibly and sustainably and the LEAF Marque is an ideal way to do this."
Alan Wilson, technical manager agronomy at Waitrose, added: "This is an important decision and signals the beginning of a new opportunity to work with progressive farmers who share the values of Waitrose and LEAF.
"It is part of our Waitrose Way initiative to ensure that we engage and support farms that operate in an environmentally responsible way. This platform has already been a success for our fresh produce and we look forward to extending this into commodity crops such as wheat and oilseed rape."
Waitrose plans to focus on oilseed rape in the first instance with a view to all UK oilseed rape production coming from LEAF Marque growers by 2016. A timescale is currently being agreed for wheat.