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Carlsberg kick-starts regenerative barley transition

Carlsberg has committed to source 100% regenerative barley for its UK beer brands within the next decade as part of a global shift towards regenerative farming.

The beer giant’s UK arm, Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company (CMBC), has said it will use 100% regenerative barley for its Carlsberg Danish Pilsner by 2027 and for all UK brands by 2031.

The commitment forms part of Carlsberg Group’s new ‘zero farming footprint’ ambition through which it aims to source 30% of all agricultural raw materials from regenerative practices and sustainable sources globally by 2030, reaching 100% by 2040.

Regenerative farming lacks an agreed definition although it is generally considered to deliver a reduced reliance on artificial inputs and restore soil health and biodiversity by working with nature. “Agriculture is the biggest cause of biodiversity loss around the world and a major driver of climate change,” said Callum Weir, head of agricultural programmes at WWF-UK, which has worked in partnership with Carlsberg on conservation projects for the past three years. “If we’re to bring our world back to life, we simply must find better ways to farm in harmony with nature. Regenerative agriculture, when robustly defined and comprehensively implemented, is one way to do that.”

CMBC along with the Archer-Daniels-Midland Company (ADM) have contracted an initial 23 farmers to grow an estimated 7,000 tonnes of regenerative barley during 2023 to kick-start the transition. They have also partnered with agriculture consultancy Ceres Rural to develop a regenerative agricultural protocol that considers the specific requirements and contexts for UK farmers.

“Agricultural systems vary hugely across the world due to climate, soil type, crops grown, scale and technology – therefore adapting the approach across markets is essential to success,” said Alice Andrew, associate partner at Ceres Rural. “Government and industry support for farmers will help scale these practices – from expert advice and facilitating peer-to-peer learning to gather local data to give more farmers confidence to adapt new practices.”

Nestlé, First Milk and Compass Group are among a number of businesses investing in regenerative agriculture as a way to meet their net-zero targets.

In August, a coalition of more than 60 farmers called on the UK government to support a transition to regenerative agriculture to ensure long-term food security.