Waitrose Farm Assessment

Working with our suppliers, we are seeking to understand how continuous improvement in terms of sustainability is being implemented and the key challenges, with a view to providing accurate data for research.

A combine harvester in a field

We have deliberately avoided the traditional audit approach and our trained assessors, both from suppliers and Waitrose, engage with each farmer to fully understand how future challenges can be faced.

The assessment is bi-annual and takes one day to complete.The first version covered 1,000 farms around the world. The new version, launched in 2013, will cover the same subject matter but ask for greater detail. This approach has been welcomed by suppliers and growers alike.

Its success is linked to the information provided on this portal and the comprehensive training package offered to assessors. The Waitrose Agronomy Group monitors the assessment development and data that is forthcoming.

The Waitrose Farm Assesment Report has been created from the results of the Waitrose Farm Assessment version 1, we have gained a clear idea of future challenges. To address these we are working closely with academic partners to identify development opportunities and long-term solutions.

Soil, Water and Biodiversity

No subject can be seen in isolation and it is important we understand the knock-on effects of making changes to any ecosystem component and total value within the ecosystem of any change made.The UK sources food from many countries and environments and we need to engage with science and practice that takes account of particular country-specific and environmentally sensitive issues. We view this area as vital to the long-term sustainability of an individual farm and within the Waitrose Farm Assessment, these are the most misunderstood and often neglected issues. Despite this, there are some excellent examples of good practice and you will find these described on the supplier and collaborating researcher pages.

Crop Nutrition and Production

One major concern is reducing the use of man-made fertilisers. These are costly in energy and in financial terms and in some cases in very short supply. They are potentially the source of much diffuse pollution, a massive problem in agriculture and the source of greenhouse gas emissions, an enormous global problem. Therefore strategies to accomplish this within a diverse growing system are a top priority.

Secondly, while the use of pesticides in the food production business has been enormously beneficial to food production, their use is not without its problems. We have made a high priority of establishing good practice in use, handling, disposal and storage of pesticides, but recognise we need to drive still further the optimisation or reduction of usage. This will involve the development of a robust system to demonstrate that integrated crop management is a success.An example of how bees and pollinators aid production and fruit quality at Tuesley Farm.

Quality, Harvesting, Waste


Every initiative that we are engaged in is designed to improve the overall quality of the food we harvest.We believe that the more we understand about the factors affecting the quality of food and what we actually mean by quality of individual products, the better we can manage benefits through to the consumer. The harvesting stage is a key point because it is often an area where product degradation starts to accelerate. Therefore techniques to provide optimal harvesting and post harvest management are essential.


Food waste is an enormous issue for food security and it is generally accepted that reducing food waste is just as important as producing more food.

Waste occurs at all points in the chain between farm and fork. Science can play a great part at different points in the chain, for example by reducing crop senescence/enhancing shelf life through plant breeding and by addressing these and other issues through modified storage and other product management opportunities. We also have to think more radically about production methods to ensure that growers can achieve consistent yields and uniform crop qualities and more accurate crop timing. We recognise that in order to feed an increasing world population we have to find mechanisms to reduce food waste.


We strive to take this culture into our interaction with our suppliers and onto each farm that we trade with.

Uncovering Hidden Migrant Worker Maltreatment

This Toolkit provides guidance of relevance to both labour providers and labour users covering the circumstances in which migrant worker forced labour, bondage and related maltreatment can come to exist. It provides a series of methods by which such activity can be prevented and recognised, together with actions to take where such activity is identified.

Uncovering Hidden Migrant Worker Maltreatment
ETI Smallholder Guidelines, English

These guidelines present the recommendations and working tools developed by the ETI Smallholders Project Group for those working within international supply chains that source from smallholders. They seek to provide guidance on how retailers, purchasers, smallholders and others can take action to help improve the working conditions of smallholders. The ultimate aim is to work towards the implementation of internationally agreed labour standards on smallholdings, and specifically, those of the ETI Base Code.

Smallholder Guidelines
EHRC Guide to Business and Human Rights

This guide to business and human rights, developed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, covers how human rights can add value to your business. The guide covers what human rights are and why they matter for business, steps to respecting human rights in your business and how to deal with your human rights impacts.

EHRC Guide to Business and Human Rights
Effective Communication with a Multi-Language Workforce

The purpose of this toolkit is to provide practical help and guidance to managers in the food industry on how to better communicate with a workforce where more than a single language is spoken (referred to throughout this toolkit as a multi-language workforce).

Effective Communication with a Multi-Language Workforce
Ethical Handbook for UK Growers - a resource to guide growers on UK Employment Law

UK growers are increasingly coming under the scrutiny of the media and campaigners looking to check how workers are treated on farms around the UK. For small operations, a risk assessment followed by third party audit, is neither appropriate nor affordable. This on-line handbook sets out a simple interactive way for assessing ethical risk and supporting improvements in labour practices in the UK agriculture and horticulture sectors. It provides UK growers with advice on meeting legal and ethical requirements.

Ethical Handbook for UK Growers
Stronger Together

Stronger Together is a UK food industry initiative to reduce human trafficking, forced labour and other hidden third party migrant worker exploitation.

In 2012, 29% of cases of human trafficking for labour exploitation reported to the UK Human Trafficking Centre occurred within the food processing and agricultural sectors.The objective of Stronger Together is to equip UK employers with the knowledge and resource to recognise the signs of exploitation and to tackle it in the food and agriculture industries.

Stronger Together