Tesco boss Ken Murphy has publicly defended the UK’s net zero goals, and called on political parties to stick by their environmental commitments.
Speaking at a Reuters Impact event this morning, the supermarket supremo urged politicians to provide businesses with the certainty they needed to invest in low carbon products and solutions in the food sector.
This would ensure supermarkets could “safeguard the shopping basket from shocks tomorrow,” while also protecting customers and suppliers from rising costs driven by stubborn inflation.
“That means building a more resilient, sustainable and productive food system. One that guarantees customers a long-term supply of quality, affordable food as well as improving the economy and world they live in,” he said.
Murphy argued green innovation in the food industry could help cut costs and carbon at supermarkets such as Tesco, while helping to bolster food security.
However, he warned levels of investment in the UK remain well below the OECD average, and wanted the government and industry to team up to unlock large-scale innovation.
“We’ll only get there through cross-industry and cross-party collaboration. We all need to drive towards the same goal, and be better at sharing learnings and resources on the way,” he said.
“The food industry is willing to invest, but needs more stability and confidence when it comes to future policy. That is why it’s critical that all parties, regardless of political creed, stand by their net zero commitments and timelines,” he added.
The Tesco chief executive also unveiled a rapid expansion of its field trials for low-carbon fertilisers — the largest of its kind in the UK.
The UK’s largest supermarket has joined forces with suppliers to drive a tenfold increase in the number of hectares being cultivated by low-carbon alternatives for the 2024 growing season.
With conventional fertiliser costs rising by as much as 140 per cent last year, and the closure of the UK’s last remaining fertiliser plant, low-carbon fertilisers could be a cost effective and less volatile alternative for farmers struggling with shortages caused by the war in Ukraine.
A Defra spokesperson said: “We can be proud of the UK’s record as a world leader on net zero. We are going far beyond other countries in reducing emissions, eliminating avoidable waste, and restoring nature.
“The Government has outlined a range of measures that will contribute to our net zero commitment, and delivering a more productive, sustainable and resilient farming and food sector, most recently through the Farm to Fork Summit, the Government Food Strategy, Environmental Improvement Plan and Carbon Budget Delivery Plan.”