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08 November 2022

Press Release

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Supermarkets agree to accelerate climate action with suppliers - as WWF report highlights what’s in store for nature

  • New report from WWF today provides most comprehensive ever picture of food retail sector’s environmental footprint and shows long road ahead for retail sector in tackling supply chain emissions
  • Five major UK supermarkets – Co-op, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose – have agreed to accelerate action on climate, deforestation and farming in bid to halve the sector’s environmental impact by 2030 
  • WWF and supermarkets call on UK Government to support businesses with policies that slash climate emissions from agriculture and land use  

Five major UK food retailers have agreed to join forces to accelerate climate action through their supply chains, as a new WWF report finds that value chains account for up to 90% of supermarket greenhouse gas emissions - and highlights a long road ahead for the retail sector to halve the environmental impact of UK shopping baskets 

The report, What's in store for the planet: the impact of the UK shopping basket on climate and nature 2022, published today, provides the most comprehensive picture of the environmental impacts associated with the food retail sector, to date.

This report, the first of its kind, puts retailer action on climate and nature under the spotlight one year on since the 2021 climate commitments made by retailers at COP26. 

The report contains data across seven key areas: climate, deforestation & conversion of habitat, agriculture, marine, diets, food waste and packaging. With data provided by nine of the 11 major UK supermarkets, the report covers 80% of the sector. We will evaluate progress to 2030 annually. 

Food retailers are taking action to agree standards and reduce their environmental impact, and there are areas where supermarkets have demonstrated clear progress – such as cutting down on packaging and waste.

However, WWF warns there is still an urgent need for accelerated action from the sector as a whole and greater support from the UK Government, especially in areas like agricultural supply chains.  

The report looks at the level of ambition required to halve the food retail sector’s impact on climate change and nature.

As well as providing data on emissions, it shows that while 62% of palm oil, found in supermarket products such as margarine and cakes and mainly sourced from Asia, is reported as deforestation and conversion free, only 6% of soy, found in products as animal feed in chicken and pork and mainly sourced from South America, is certified as ‘verified deforestation free’.  

WWF’s flagship Living Planet Report 2022 published in October found that wildlife populations around the world have plummeted by 69% on average since 1970. 

The data from Latin America is even more stark with a 94 percent reduction in wildlife populations, and the forest home of species like the jaguar under serious threat from conversion into agricultural land. 

WWF says urgent action is needed from both the UK Government and food retail sector, including removing deforestation from our food production, if we are to protect and restore nature. 

In response to the report, the CEOs of Co-op, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose announced today that they will increase their work on tackling climate change in the coming year and will: 

  • support their suppliers to adopt science-based targets to reach net-zero climate emissions by 2050 
  • work with WRAP to support their suppliers to set these targets, take high-impact actions and report data  
  • work with WRAP to develop and deliver an ambitious climate action programme for the grocery retail sector, focussing on high-impact actions to halve their climate emissions, by 2030

Tanya Steele, WWF’s CEO, said:

“Nature is in freefall and we know 60 percent of global biodiversity loss and 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions are caused by the food system.

"This report gives us the benchmarks to paint a picture of the environmental impact of most of the UK food retail sector. You can only change what you can measure, so we welcome the transparency from the supermarkets that shared their environmental data with WWF. 

“Shoppers want to know that their purchases are not contributing to the destruction of our planet, so we urge other supermarkets to join the five who have committed to our goal to halve the environmental impact of our food shopping by 2030.

"But beyond words and commitments, we need action to reduce deforestation, nature loss and climate change – both from the retail sector and government.

"Food should be a cross-government priority – and a global one too.  Sustainable food systems must be at the heart of future negotiations on both climate change and biodiversity.” 

In a joint statement, Shirine Khoury-Haq, CEO of Co-op Group, Stuart Machin, CEO M&S, Simon Roberts, Sainsbury’s CEO, Ken Murphy, Tesco CEO and James Bailey, Waitrose’s Executive Director said:

“WWF’s findings leave no doubt of the scale of the task we collectively agreed to undertake when it comes to improving our food supply chains and enabling a sustainable shopping experience for our customers.

"We restate our commitment to work with WWF, our customers, suppliers, and the UK Government to halve the environmental impact of UK shopping baskets by 2030. We believe that this goal is achievable and is vital for the future of nature, our planet, our businesses and, crucially, our customers.” 

As part of the acceleration of climate action announced today, the supermarkets are working, with WWF and WRAP the climate action NGO, through the Courtauld 2030 framework, to set targets and help their suppliers set targets and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  

Richard Swannell, WRAP’s Interim CEO said:

“We welcome this timely and important report and the leadership and commitment shown by accelerating action on climate change - where urgent action is required, and collaboration key to reducing the impact feeding people puts on the planet.

"WRAP is delighted to work with WWF and the Commitment to Nature signatories, and to scale this action in the sector through the Courtauld Commitment 2030 to support the supply chains we all rely on to set targets, measure and take action on high-impact changes.” 

Reducing climate emissions from land use and agriculture in ways that also help to restore nature poses particular challenges to achieving the overall ambition of the WWF Basket [3] and is an area that requires close cooperation between retailers, farmers and the UK Government.  The five supermarkets have agreed to work with WWF to call for the introduction of an Agriculture and Land Use Emissions Reduction Strategy in 2023. A comprehensive strategy is urgently needed to ensure clarity for farmers and the food sector as a whole. 


  1. What's in store for the planet: the impact of the UK shopping basket on climate and nature 2022, is the most comprehensive study ever of the impact of UK food shopping on the environment and was prepared with the cooperation of nine of the 11 major UK food retailers covering 80% of retail food sales. 
  2. WWF’s Retailers’ Commitment for Nature is underpinned by the WWF Basket [3]- the overall goal to halve the environmental impact of UK Baskets by 2030. The measures which underpin the WWF Basket have been defined by WWF based on the UK Global Footprint report published in 2021. They represent the areas where the food sector has the biggest impact on the environment. WWF will report annually on the progress of the sector as a whole towards the target of halving the environmental impact of UK baskets. Progress will be measured based on the information shared by the retailers.    

Five supermarkets signed WWF’s Retailers’ Commitment to Nature at the COP26 climate talks in 2021 and provided data for the report this summer. These are Co-op, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose. In addition, four other supermarkets shared their data with WWF for the report. These are Aldi, Lidl, Morrisons, and Ocado.  

By providing an easily understandable percentage of the distance the sector is from the target, the report enables retailers to understand where the entire industry has to shift and what actions can be taken from them and others to provide the change. 

One year into the project, reporting shows that retailers are highly engaged with the Basket agenda, from measurement, reporting, and action perspectives. Some retailers have been working for several years on selected aspects of the WWF Basket which is highly commendable. However, this first year shows accelerated pace is needed to reach the ambitious and highly challenging performance levels required by 2030 across all indicators and for some areas, immediate action. This is why the signatories to WWF’s Retailers’ commitment to Nature have agreed to prioritise climate, deforestation and agriculture in 2023 for their work together 

WWF and the CEOs of the five supermarkets who signed WWF’s Retailers Commitment to Nature are calling on the Government to create and implement legally binding strategies and plans to reduce emissions and land use. Supporting a transition to regenerative agriculture should be at the heart of these strategies, supported by innovation, improving farmers’ agency in supply chains and changing consumer demands. 

WWF’s Retailers’ Commitment to Nature published on 6 November 2021 

Food is at the heart of our business and a thriving society  

Globally the food system is also the leading cause of biodiversity loss and a key contributor of climate change. And so it must be part of the solution.  

As CEOs of leading UK food retailers, we recognise that a future without nature is a future without food. By 2030 we collectively need to halt the loss of nature.  

Therefore, for the first time we are coming together with WWF-UK to commit to taking action across seven areas where food has a disproportionate impact on climate and nature.  

We commit to:  

Working with WWF to halve the environmental impact of UK Baskets by 2030, focusing on climate, deforestation and conversion of habitat, agricultural production, marine, diets, food waste and packaging as measured by the WWF Basket.  

Reporting data annually to WWF against these pillars and publicly reporting on actions taken.  

Meeting the business commitment to 1.5 by setting 1.5-degree SBTs in all scopes, near term and long term by end of 2022.