Carlsberg Group embeds regenerative agriculture into UK barley production

By Nicola Gordon-Seymour

- Last updated on GMT

The group is fostering relationships across the value chain to ensure 100% of barley is produced using regenerative agriculture by 2040. GettyImages/Peter Cade
The group is fostering relationships across the value chain to ensure 100% of barley is produced using regenerative agriculture by 2040. GettyImages/Peter Cade

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Carlsberg Group has recruited 23 UK farmers to supply 7,000 tonnes of regenerative barley for regional brands in 2023, as part of broader plans to expand regenerative agriculture across Europe.

The group is fostering relationships across the value chain to ensure 100% of barley is produced using regenerative agriculture by 2040.

Senior Director of Sustainability & ESG at Carlsberg Group, Simon Boas Hoffmeyer, comments: “We cannot reach our targets alone. Partnerships are vital across the value chain, which is why we are collaborating closely with local farmers, traders, maltsters, agronomists, and NGOs who provide expertise in the transition to regeneratively grown barley.

“Over time this will allow us to offer our consumers and customers lower-carbon beers and contribute to improving the ecosystems we rely on.”

Tailored approach

In the absence of a recognised global definition for regenerative agriculture, “a set of practices”​ have been developed to define regenerative agriculture for Carlsberg Group.

Hoffmeyer indicates these could be temporary as the group works with industry peers, such as the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI), “to develop and streamline this definition.”

Drafted by Carlsberg Manston’s Brewing Company (CMBC) and Archer-Daniels-Midland Company (ADM) together with agricultural consultancy, Ceres Rural, they target crop diversity to restore soil health and support natural carbon capture.

Designed to meet the specific needs and context for UK farmers, the requirements prescribe minimal or no soil disturbance; soil coverage for at least 95% of the year; four crop rotations per year; minimal chemical inputs, and full chain traceability.

Associate Partner at Ceres Rural, Alice Andrew, explains: “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.

“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.”

Delivering results

A recently launched environment, social and governance (ESG) programme, Together Towards Zero and Beyond (TTZAB) outlines group ambitions and targets to improve ESG.

Agroecological expansion in the UK will help expedite the stated commitment to “fight against climate change and biodiversity loss”​ and procure 30% of all agricultural raw material from regenerative sources, globally, by 2030.

“Carlsberg is taking actions and delivering results towards milestones in 2030 and 2040. TTZAB is Carlsberg’s response to global challenges such as inequality, climate change and water scarcity, as well as society’s increasing focus on health and wellbeing,” ​says Hoffmeyer.

“The programme is anchored in its purpose of brewing for a better today and tomorrow and is embedded into its overall corporate strategy.”

Working together

Working with local partners, Carlsberg, has already helped establish the first ever transparent barley supply chain in France to ensure sustainable management of agroecological zones and promote biodiversity.

The blockchain system guarantees optimum barley quality and fair remuneration for the 250 partner farmers and other stakeholders, including Malteries Soufflet and Soufflet Agriculture of InVivo Group, that supply barley to Kronenbourg SAS.

Kronenbourg 1664 accounts for 10% of the French beer market and last year 20% was produced with regenerative barley, although Carlsberg is aiming for 100% regenerative production of Blonde brews by 2026.

Finnish partners, meanwhile, supply regenerative barley to regional Carlsberg subsidiary, SinebryChoff, for KOFF Christmas beer, and actively promote regenerative barley farming among peers to change mindsets on the benefits to long-term soil health.

UK targets

Regenerative practices introduced into the UK will be communicated to consumers on product labels, through general advertising, on corporate social media channels and through “advocacy work within the industry”​, Hoffmeyer says.

Full transition to regenerative barley in the UK is expected by 2027 (for Carlsberg Danish Pilsner), although the target for other brands is 2031, he adds.

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