We support our 1,500 grower partners to reduce their environmental impact when growing potatoes. We closely monitor their activity by helping them to optimise their planting, growth and harvesting of potatoes in a responsible way. This has been going on for more than 30 years.
In order to achieve our commitment toward a more sustainable agriculture, McCain focuses on 4 main area:
1- TAKING CARE OF GROWERS THROUGH LONG-TERM PARTNERSHIPS
In deed 80% of our grower partners have been working alongside us for more than 10 years. Our European partners share our values: 100% of them are committed to a sustainable certification process for their potato crops, and are annually audited by an independent third party. Certification programs (VVA, Vegaplan, GlobalGAP®1) cover, amongst other things, good agricultural practices in terms of food safety and environmental protection. We are working hand in hand with our partners, on a long-term basis, bringing them the expertise of our 30 agronomists who are there to help them optimise crop yield and quality. We also offer our grower partners multi-year sales contracts, which gives them visibility in terms of earnings and future investments.
2-TAKING CARE OF WATER THROUGH IRRIGATION RESTRICTIONS
Today (only) 25% of fields are irrigated.
Our European growers use sprinkler irrigation systems to support rainfall shortages during certain stages of crop cultivation. These systems allow our growers to schedule irrigation for when the crops need it most. In total, only a quarter of fields intended for McCain use are irrigated, in a manner respecting European, national and local legislations. Two potato farms in Poland have set up a micro-irrigation drip system, which allows water to drip regularly and directly to the plants’ roots. This increases both water and energy efficiency.
3- TAKING CARE OF THE SOIL BY REDUCTION IN PLANT PROTECTION PRODUCTS
We already achieved 25% reduction in pesticides and limited nitrogen use over 10 years. The amount of active ingredients from pesticides used on crops intended for McCain Continental Europe have been reduced by 25% over the last 10 years (2006 – 2016), which is the equivalent of 1,000 tonnes. This goes hand in hand with a study we completed on pesticides that have a lower environmental impact. Over a similar period (2007 – 2016), the use of nitrates (a type of fertiliser) has been limited by 8% per cultivated hectare in Continental Europe.
4- TAKING CARE OF THE FUTURE BY INNOVATING IN SUSTAINABLE FARMS
10 is the number of pilot farms in Europe where McCain is experimenting with more sustainable farming methods.
In select Belgian, Dutch, Polish and French farms, we want to find new ways to improve and continue progressing towards a sustainable future. Our aim is to reduce the use of plant protection products (compared to the average use during 2013 – 2015) by 20% across our pi- lot farms, while still ensuring quality and a high crop yield while protecting the soil. At the same time, 60 of our farms have implemented action plans towards pre- serving biodiversity following an analysis and an awareness campaign.
We are not stopping there and we are committed to do even better in the future.For 2020, McCain plans to reduce the amount of water used for irrigation by 7% for each tonne of potatoes grown. And reduce the use of pesticides and nitrates by 10% across all farms based on the average use during 2013 – 2015, by rapidly deploying the use of new technologies, growing more resistant and resilient varieties of potatoes, and other alternative solutions.