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Kellogg’s net zero farming: GHG assessment and 60% reduction plan for farmer supplier

Ricardo’s agriculture team delivers a bespoke emissions baseline and actionable net zero plan for achieving 60% net emissions reduction for Kellogg’s Origins supplier Priory Farm.

Challenge

Kellogg’s – the household name cereal brand and US listed multinational branded food manufacturing business – are committed to responsible sourcing of ingredients. Through its Origins programme it invests in sustainable agriculture projects in partnership with farmers and suppliers in the UK and around the world, to improve productivity and environmental outcomes. Kellogg’s aims to support 1 million farmers and farm workers to increase productivity, improve environmental outcomes and positively impact farmer livelihoods by 2030. Partnering across their value chain, particularly with farmers, will be critical to achieving their goal to reduce absolute Scope 3 GHG emissions by 15% by the end of 2030 because a significant portion of these emissions result from farming of key ingredients. 

Kellogg’s source a variety of their cereal grain ingredients for their UK manufacturing facilities from local farmers. In the UK, national targets have been established to achieve ‘Net Zero’ Emissions by 2050 with a more ambitious target set by the National Farmers Union for “Net Zero Farming” activities by 2040. UK ingredients in food and drink products represent around one third of their total emissions , and whilst this varies product-to-product, Kellogg’s and their supplier within the Kellogg’s Origins grower group, Priory Farm was keen to understand their contribution, and the implications of net zero targets for farming practices and land use activities on their farm.

A large proportion of agricultural emissions are from biological processes – such as methane from manures and nitrous oxide from soil microbial processes following the addition of reactive nitrogen compounds to soil – emissions, which are difficult to eliminate entirely. Enhancing carbon sequestration into soil and standing biomass will be needed, in addition to reductions in emissions associated with farming practices, such as emissions from fuel use in farm machinery. This is true at a farm level, at a supply chain level, and at a national level.

Carbon sequestration may occur in grassland and arable soils, and in areas of the farm not used for production, such as hedges, woodland and uncultivated field margins. Carbon footprint assessments for farm produce often do not always include these removals, especially in the non-productive areas. Furthermore, assessments are often limited to a product of interest such as a particular crop in the rotation or a livestock product (such as meat or milk), without consideration of a whole rotation or other areas of the farm not used for the product of interest. The expert team at Ricardo were asked to help Kellogg’s and their supplier, Priory Farm, to find a practical and credible way to include the whole farm area in an assessment of net emissions. The aim was to identify a better metric for judging sustainability at a whole farm level, which could underpin  development of realistic management strategies to move a farm closer to net-zero emissions.

 

Approach

Ricardo’s agriculture team provided an assessment of total GHG emissions and total carbon removals from farming activities and land use for Kellogg’s and one of their large suppliers, Priory Farm, under the European Food and Farming Partnership initiative.  

We developed a bespoke, yet practical approach to the greenhouse gas assessment to make sure that subsequent recommendations for reducing farm emissions reflected real-life circumstances on the farm. We drew on our knowledge of a range of off-the-shelf calculators such as the Cool Farm Tool and included bespoke calculations based on the Green House Gas protocol, and the latest scientific literature. At the outset, a baseline assessment of the current situation at Priory Farm was done using the Cool Farm Tool, reflecting Kellogg’s membership of the Cool Farm Alliance. The Cool Farm Tool is a product-based assessment tool focused on supply chain only, so not all aspects of the farm could be assessed with it. Areas such as unmanaged woodland and hedgerows had to be done using other methods.

An action plan was presented with four realistic scenarios for the farm to reduce emissions and enhance sequestration. Ricardo’s action plan for Priory Farm focused in on four potential changes to farm management practices and land-use, selected by our expert team, to help the farm make significant progress towards net zero, whilst being also being realistic within the context of Priory farm’s business priorities and land-use context.

Our team created a report of the project’s findings detailing the Priory Farm case study and wider learning for Kellogg’s Origins including:

  • emissions reported as total emissions and in relation to the output of the farm to give an emissions intensity (kg CO2e/kg output) 
  • actionable recommendations for realistic changes that could influence net carbon emissions
  • recommendations for data improvement which Kellogg’s could implement to help effective targeting of their farm supply decarbonisation approach and investments, such as further product foot-printing, improvements in data collection to accurately reflect business boundaries, and opportunities to use benchmarked data for comparison to wider industry performance.

 

Results

The results confirm that up to a 60% reduction in net emissions can be achieved by implementing some pragmatic management practices and focusing on the most productive areas of the farm, while maintaining yield and financial performance.

Four farm management changes were recommended to progress towards net zero:

  1. Altering nitrogen management – reducing applications by 25kg/ha across the farm
  2. Expanding natural and uncultivated areas on farm (two options were included) –putting agri-environment options on marginal land; and bringing in two-year rotational grass/legume leys across whole fields
  3. Introducing silvo pasture – distanced planting of trees in grassland, using species such as cherry and walnut for high-specification markets
  4. Increasing renewable energy generation – increasing the amount of photovoltaic solar panels and installing a biomass heating system.

All the options identified are being considered by grower, Mr Northern, as the farm takes steps towards achieving net zero and being more aware of its carbon responsibilities. Mr Northern, implemented two of the changes immediately - improving efficiency of nitrogen fertiliser and expanding natural and uncultivated areas on marginal land supported by enrolment in government agri-environment funding schemes – bringing additional benefits such as biodiversity and natural pest control.  

The project findings were presented by our team to the project funders and partners. It has been well received and is being used to inform the future development of Kellogg’s Origins programme in the UK.

Related news: Kelloggs study shows how arable farms can aim for net zero

Client

Priory Farm, Kellogg’s Origins supplier

Start date

06/2021

Location

UK, Surrey

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