The frozen potato company, which operates in 51 production facilities across six continents, has so far managed to onboard more than half of its global potato acreage onto its regenerative agriculture framework, with 28% said to be moving up the agenda towards a more comprehensive adoption of such practices.
Regenerative agriculture is the act of farming and grazing in a way that is intended to reverse climate change damage by restoring soil organic matter and degraded biodiversity.
The McCain framework comprises high-level pathways for farmers to make incremental progress towards farming regeneratively in their own specific circumstances.
Its Farms of the Future programme is another way it is supporting the transition to regenerative agriculture. This comprises two (soon to be three) farms that are helping determine, scale and showcase best practice in regenerative farming. These farms undertake new research and trial technologies, working with partners to take risks, make mistakes and eventually overcome any challenges so McCain's network of other farmers don’t have to.
This news comes as the company releases its Sustainability Summary Report, which details its progress across a number of pillars. These include smart and sustainable farming, resource-efficient operations, good food, and thriving communities.
“As one of the most vulnerable sectors impacted by climate change, the food system is one of the most important levers to help drive a sustainable and resilient future. That is why sustainability is at the heart of our purpose as a business. We are pleased to share an update on how we are making strides towards our goals in key areas that will ensure we have resource efficient operations, are farming in a smart and sustainable way and are contributing to building thriving communities in the areas that we operate, all while we continue to produce good food,” said Max Koeune, president and CEO of McCain Foods.
Alongside its work in regenerative agriculture, McCain has been exploring innovative water management solutions within H2O-stressed regions. Within the report it reveals it has helped improve efficiency by 9.4% and achieved a goal of 21.9% of potatoes grown to be resilient to water deprivation.
The report also flags its progress in renewables, with 21% of its electrical energy now generated via this source. Moreover, its absolute emissions (scope 1 and 2) are said to have seen a 9.8% reduction since 2017; and as much as 98.5% and 87.8% of its paper and plastic packaging, respectively, is now designed for recycling.
The 2023 sustainability summary also details the launch of its new global policies for clean ingredients and nutrition, with sodium having been reduced by 6.6% in its branded appetiser products.
“While we are proud of how far we have progressed towards our goals, we recognise there is more to be done,” added Koeune. “But we know this is not something we can do alone. Partnership and knowledge are crucial to move forward. We will continue to look to stakeholders – from our farmers, to government, to financial institutions, NGOs, suppliers, customers and other players in the food system – to collaborate on this journey towards planet-friendly food.”